The Benefits of Whey Protein, Beyond Exercise
Whey protein has become one of the most popular sports nutrition supplements on the market today, and for good reason. This protein touts numerous benefits like burning fat, building muscle and strengthening bone. But there are other benefits of Whey protein that you will feel outside of the gym, according to former Director of Nutrition, Nicole Crane, BS, NTP.
Whey protein is a dairy protein and it ranks very high in terms of quality and digestability. Whey is considered a “perfect” protein, which means it contains all of the essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make and must get from dietary sources. Whey protein is rich in two amino acids, glutamine and leucine, that make it particularly helpful for rebuilding muscle. Glutamine makes up about 60% of the amino acids in our muscle and serves as an essential source of fuel for muscle cells, giving them energy, power and strength. Whey protein also contains the essential amino acid leucine, a branch chain amino acid with powerful muscle stimulating properties. Leucine is the only amino acid that activates mTOR, a protein that directly stimulates muscle synthesis.v This makes leucine and whey protein a powerful ally in the fight against muscle loss.
Whey Beyond Exercise Benefits
The benefits of whey are numerous, beyond muscle protection, repair and rebuilding. Whey has been shown to support weight loss, especially of fat tissue, mainly through muscle building and balancing of blood glucose (sugar) levels. Research on whey protein, especially on diabetic subjects, shows that is slows down carbohydrate absorption after meals, and improves insulin secretion and insulin sensitivityvii , all factors that support healthier blood sugar levels. Further, whey was shown to be more satiating than soy protein or casein, helping subjects feel fuller for longer, leading to reduced food cravings. Whey also supported a greater loss of body weight and lead to a reduction in overall daily caloric intake.viii Whey protein may be a dieter’s best friend and an ideal replacement for sugary beverages or even breakfast.
Whey also supports healthy blood pressure levels by acting like an ACE-inhibitor. Whey and other dairy proteins contain a peptide (protein) called lactokinin that regulates and suppresses the action of angiotensin converting enzymeix , which prevents blood vessels from constricting too much. Other research shows that whey protein acts as a powerful inflammation regulator, successfully lowering levels of C-reactive protein, a blood marker of inflammation.x Research is also beginning to show that whey protein can successfully lower cholesterol levels, especially “lousy” LDL cholesterol.xi Whey is a wonderful supporter of cardiovascular health.
For people who suffer from intestinal disorders like Crohn’s Disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS) and need support for their intestinal tract, whey is a great asset. Glutamine, one of the amino acids found in high concentration in whey protein, is also an excellent source of fuel for the GI tract, helping to regenerate both the muscular and mucosa layers.xii Many of the other properties of whey protein, as intestinal fuel and immune supporter and more, make it one of the best proteins for intestinal health. Lastly, whey protein helps to build one of our most important internal antioxidants and detoxifiers – glutathione. Whey protein helps to combat the decline in glutathione that is associated with accelerated aging and increased inflammatory response. Glutamine rich whey protein has been shown to effectively rebuild and maintain youthful levels of glutathione, the primary driver of detoxification pathways in the liver, brain, lungs and kidneys. Glutathione support the optimal functioning of all the body’s organs and keep us young and healthy at the cellular level.
Whether you are walking, doing yoga, pumping iron, swimming or dancing the tango, whey is the best way to refuel, no matter how strenuous the exercise. Whether you are looking to maintain or rebuild muscle, whey protein offers numerous benefits for lean muscle mass and the rest of the body as well. Whey is the way to go for muscle health and beyond.