Whey protein is one of the most common dietary supplement that is usually consumed for the purpose of bodybuilding. It is the protein extracted from milk as a byproduct of cheesemaking. The liquid that separates while making cheese is filtered, dried and refined into powdered form. Whey protein is exceedingly popular among bodybuilders and people who gym regularly for its benefits such as muscle strengthening and aiding weight loss. Although whey protein side effects is a major concern for all the gym goers out there.
Whey protein also provides the convenience of including a good amount of protein in our diet. It is available in powdered form making it simple to consume with water or milk.
However, despite its many benefits, it does not come without its drawbacks. It is important to be aware of the possible side effects of whey protein and potential health risks it poses before making it a part of your diet.
Things to be aware of before consuming whey protein
The right dosage that is appropriate for you
Consumption of whey protein in small amounts is harmless to most adults and children. However, the consumption of high doses of whey can lead to many side effects.
Most of the whey protein side-effects are related to gastrointestinal and digestive distresses such as nausea, stomach cramps, increased bowel movements, reduced appetite.
Side effects such as indigestion, diarrhoea, gas and bloating arise mostly as an effect of lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is highly common around the world and lactose is one of the main components of whey protein. People with lactose intolerance face difficulty with digesting lactose due to lack of lactase enzyme.
High doses of whey can also lead to other problems such as headache, fatigue and development of acne.
It can trigger certain allergic symptoms
Whey protein is a milk-based protein and therefore people allergic to milk and other dairy products may also be specifically allergic to whey.
Although whey has low lactose content, consuming it in large amounts can lead to allergic reactions. These reactions could be simple like rashes, runny nose and facial swelling.
However, to people that are severely allergic to cow’s milk, it could even lead to anaphylaxis. Therefore, it is crucial to be aware of one’s own allergies and check the ingredients of the product.
Added sugars and other additives
While digestive distresses are caused by the improper dosage of whey, it appears that quantity is not the only thing to look out for.
Certain brands offering whey protein offer them in different flavours. Some of these flavored whey proteins and its variants contain artificial flavoring, added sugars and other additives such as thickeners and emulsifiers.
It is, as is always, important to be aware of the ingredients in the products we consume from the market and this especially holds true for processed food.
The proportion of ingredients in the whey protein formula differ from brand to brand and may affect the consumer differently.
Whey powders with a high amount of added sugar could lead to unintended weight gain and may turn out to be counterproductive to someone who is trying to lose weight or build muscles.
It may also cause an unhealthy spike in the blood sugar level.
The other common additives such as emulsifiers and artificial flavourings can prove to be harmful in the long run, if not immediately.
Artificial flavourings have been known to cause dangerous illness such as seizures, nervous system breakdown and even brain damage in addition to other symptoms of dizziness, fatigue and headache.
A good way to tackle this issue is to look for products that are naturally flavoured.
Furthermore, emulsifiers which are used to preserve the food product for a longer period is not completely safe either.
Although most types of emulsifiers are approved by the FDA as ‘generally safe’, there are more and more studies that report that emulsifiers disrupt the metabolism rate and disturb the microbial activity in the gut causing inflamed bowels and it is also supported that they contribute to obesity.
Some protein powders were found to even contain harmful toxins. So, it is always wise to check if the product is FSSAI or FDA approved.
Interaction with common medication
In addition to these dangers, whey protein can decrease the effectiveness of antibiotics. Due to the effect of some of the minerals that are present in the whey powder, the effect of antibiotics is known to be decreased. So, it is important to consult with the doctor and gain appropriate information.
Can whey protein cause kidney and liver damages?
It is one of the common misconceptions that consuming whey protein can damage the kidneys and the liver and that it may lead to osteoporosis.
However, there is no evidence to prove any of these claims. In fact, consuming protein helps reduce liver fat and is good for the bones. That being said there are also other things to be noted.
Consuming large amounts of protein regularly increases the pressure inside the kidneys as they have to filter more blood than usual.
Although this not problematic among healthy people, it can affect those who already suffer from kidney diseases.
The high-protein diet causes the kidneys to overwork and this could be dangerous by further damaging the kidneys. Read our article on TOP 10 PROTEIN RICH FOODS. If you like to increase muscle growth without harming your health.
Similarly, whey protein is not harmful to the liver of healthy individuals but affects those with cirrhosis.
Cirrhosis is a chronic liver disease causing the liver to dysfunction. When protein is metabolized by the body it releases toxins like ammonia which is filtered by the liver.
Thus, increasing the intake of protein with cirrhosis can increase ammonia levels in the body which is harmful to the brain.
Is Whey protein really as good as they say?
The benefits of consuming whey protein are widely acknowledged and millions of people around the world use it to gain its perks.
But with so many products and so many brands to choose from, deciding on one of them, tends to get difficult. So, to make it easy for beginners, we’ve made a list of the TOP 10 WHEY PROTEIN POWDERS FOR MUSCLE GROWTH IN 2019. Read on to know more about them.
Nevertheless, it is crucial that we also know how these benefits are measured. There is not an abundance of evidence that supports the existence of the benefits of whey protein.
There is a lack of data on how the body is affected by consuming protein for a long time through supplements.
It is rather surprising that most of the claimed benefits of whey protein are the results of single studies.
Some of the studies even offer mixed results. Likewise, the nature and effects of whey protein are not yet thoroughly explored and there is still need for a lot more information.
For example, it is not reliably established if whey protein can be consumed during pregnancy. A lot more contextual and longitudinal studies need to be conducted for us to gain a better understanding of whey protein.
Balance of nutrients
Finally, we should not forget that whey protein, even with all its health benefits, is still a processed food and is not something readily available in nature.
It does not have a natural equivalent. Therefore, consuming could potentially disturb the nutritional intake of the body. Large intake of protein tips the nutritional balance towards protein.
And as we know, there are not many studies exploring the long term effects of high protein intake and such imbalanced nutritional intake.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
- It is important to consume the right amount of whey protein in order to avoid most of the side effects when you decide to include whey protein as part of your diet. The suggested dosage is usually 1-2 scoops per day.
- Be aware of your allergies and intolerances and make an informed choice.
- Consult with your doctor regarding whey protein consumption if you suffer from kidney or liver damages
- Make sure that whey protein is safe to consume when you are under any medications
- Keep in mind the nutrient balance of the body and the effect of harmful additives in the long run.
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