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Whey Protein--What Are the
Proven Health Benefits

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April 23, 2015
By L. Carr, Contributing Columnist

If you're adding whey mindlessly to your pre or post
workout shakes, it's well past time you knew exactly why
whey protein benefits your health. We set out to separate
truth from fiction about whey's health benefits by
examining the scientific studies on its benefits. We all know
that whey helps to build muscle mass. But did you know
that the whey you're pouring into your shakes also affects
your cancer risk? What exactly are the proven health
benefits of whey protein?

What Exactly Is Whey?

You’ll have heard of whey protein from the term “curds
and whey” – whey is the watery part of the milk that
separates from the curds, casein, during the cheese
making process.

Whey protein is the protein within the whey, which brings
important health benefits. Whey protein is the leading
protein powder used by body builders.  Other athletes use
whey --maybe even "over-sue" whey --because they
believe it improves athletic performance. But whey protein
has other uses too. How can whey protein benefit your
health? More importantly, are there any dangers
associated with whey protein?

How Does Whey Protein Work?

Whey protein is different to casein, which is also a by-
product of the cheese making process.

Both are valuable proteins but whey protein is a complete
protein, which means it contains all the essential amino

Whey protein is a combination of beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-
lactalbumin, bovine serum albumin, and immunoglobins.
Whey protein comes in three major types: whey protein
concentrate (which contains the lowest levels of
carbohydrates and fat), whey protein isolate (which is 90
percent protein), and whey protein hydrolysate (which has
improved digestibility and is often used in infant formulas
and medical protein supplements).

Whey protein contains high levels of cysteine, which may
account for its health benefits, and it is a rich source of
protein. It may be used as a food supplement, as a milk
alternative for people who cannot take lactose, as a
replacement for milk-based infant formulas, or as a health

We looked at recent scientific studies to find out how whey
protein can benefit your health --- or hurt it --- and what
specific uses whey protein has for wellbeing.

Whey Protein Assists Muscle Building

First things first. What's the proof that whey build muscle

Whey protein is a common supplement for body builders
and people looking to build lean muscle mass through
resistance exercise. Some studies show that whey protein
can indeed improve muscle protein synthesis and help
develop lean muscle.

For example, a 2001 study by researchers at St Francis
Xavier University, Nova Scotia showed that taking whey
protein supplements during resistance training offered
some benefit compared to resistance training alone, and
men taking a whey protein supplement had a greater gain
in lean tissue mass than men not taking the supplement.

And a 2006 study from Victoria University, Melbourne,
Australia concluded that whey protein supplementation
resulted in greater strength gains and bigger gains in lean
body mass than supplementation with casein, the other by-
product of milk separation.

However, other studies have found no such link so the
case for whey protein in body building is still under

2. W
hey Protein Can Help You Lose Weight?

A 2008 study from the Minnesota Applied Research Center
(MARC) found that dieters taking a special whey protein
formula “lost significantly more body fat” and preserved
more of their lean muscle than those taking a control drink.

Whey protein may help to make you feel fuller, which helps
to prevent overeating, according to studies like a 2014
research paper by Curtin University, Perth, Australia.

In the study whey protein had an important beneficial
effect on satiety and fullness after meals compared to
supplementation with casein or carbohydrates, leading
experts to believe that whey protein is a valuable form of
weight loss aid.

Whey Protein Helps Lowers Cholesterol

A 2010 study from Curtin University of Technology, Perth,
Australia shows that people taking whey protein over a
period of 12 weeks experienced a significant decrease in
total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol as compared to
people taking a casein protein supplement. In total 70 men
and women were studied and the results also showed that
whey protein helped improve fasting lipids and insulin
levels in these overweight individuals.

Whey Protein Helps  Asthma

Whey protein could have a significantly important effect on
immune response in children suffering from asthma,
according to a 2006 study by McGill University Medical
Centre, Montreal Children's Hospital, Canada. Children with
asthma who took whey protein supplements experienced
an improved allergic response and less severe asthma
symptoms, according to the study.

Whey Protein Assists People with HIV/AIDS

While whey protein is touted by many experts as a weight
loss aid, it is also used for the opposite effect – studies
show that whey protein can reverse the weight loss
experienced by people suffering from HIV and AIDS.

A 1993 study by researchers at Montreal General Hospital
in Quebec demonstrated that whey protein taken orally
helped decrease weight loss.

Whey Protein Lowers Your Risk for Heart Disease and

Some experts have written about whey protein’s powers
for lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.

According to a 2010 study by the Curtin University of
Technology, Perth in Australia, whey protein in drinks
significantly reduced blood pressure in people with
hypertension who were also overweight, resulting in a
lower risk of them developing heart disease and stroke.

Does Whey Protein Help Prevent Cancer?

While no one agrees whether whey protein is truly
effective at preventing cancer, there has been research
that demonstrates that whey protein helps to raise levels
of glutathione.

A 2000 report from Immunotec Research Ltd, Quebec,
Canada shows that whey protein assists the action of
glutathione, an antioxidant that the body makes to defend
against free radicals. The reduction of glutathione may
contribute to the development or progression of cancer,
say experts.


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