Protein is a key nutrient that is made up of essential and non-essential amino acids, which are the “building blocks” for the body; including the immune cells, enzymes, hormones, brain cells, as well as muscles and tissue. Unlike fats and carbohydrates, protein cannot be stored by the body and is therefore required daily. Symptoms of inadequate protein intake may appear as a loss of lean muscle tissue, unwanted weight gain, bone loss, poor skin quality, fatigue, confusion, compromised immunity, among others.
So Why Consider Whey?
Whey protein has the highest “biological value” of any protein. This is a measurement of how well a protein retains nitrogen or how usable it is to the body. High quality whey protein also contains many biologically active subfractions that are valuable for health due to their immune-supporting, antimicrobial, and antioxidant functions. For example:
- Alpha-lactalbumin: the key to protein manufacturing in the body. It balances mood by enhancing tryptophan and supports proper immune function. It also helps the body deal with excess stress as it reduces the stress-hormone cortisol; helping to control cravings, energy crashes, insomnia and preventing resistant fat cells. It is highly anabolic, counteracting the breakdown of muscle tissue and slowing biological aging.
- Beta-lactoglobulin: has the ability to increase the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue, and spare glycogen during exercise.
- Glycomacropeptides: stimulates hormones responsible for enzyme release in the pancreas and for the contraction of the gallbladder and bowels. Also helps in appetite control, as it effectively stimulates a hormone (cholecystokinin) that can control our hunger responses and reduce appetite. GMPs may also boost our immune system.
- Lactoferrin: an antioxidant, powerful anti-viral and anti-bacterial, shown to inhibit the growth of E.coli, salmonella and candida in the gut. It also regulates iron absorption and bioavailability.
- Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s): these include leucine, isoleucine and valine. Energy levels, protein turnover, and recovery all depend upon the presence of adequate BCAAs. These amino acids allow the body to burn fat instead of muscle. Compared to other proteins, whey contains the highest concentration of BCAA’s that serve as important fuel sources for skeletal muscle during periods of stress, including exercise.
- Weight Control – The body requires more energy to digest protein than other foods, in turn burning more calories. Protein also helps stabilize blood sugar and control insulin by slowing absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. Studies show that individuals who combine protein-rich diets with exercise have increased satiety, lose body fat more quickly, build and maintain more lean muscle, burn more calories, while improving their metabolism and blood sugar levels!
- Stronger Immunity - Whey provides the amino acid cysteine to help the body produce glutathione, a potent antioxidant that supports the immune system by raising levels of antibodies and enzymes, in addition to producing detoxifying effects. In addition, certain subfractions of whey act as prebiotics, to promote beneficial probiotic bacteria growth. Whey protein also contains lactoferrin, an antimicrobial nutrient.
- Healing & Repair – This process requires plenty of protein and the amino acid building blocks that help us grow new skin. Whey protein helps replace body cells for faster recuperation and helps build, repair and maintain muscle, skin, and bones.
- Heart Health - New research shows whey protein may help reduce blood pressure in those with borderline hypertension by increasing the dilation of blood vessels and improving blood flow. Also, certain bioactive components in whey protein may help balance cholesterol. Both are factors associated with increased risk of heart disease.
- Stress & Sleep Support: Whey protein has also been shown to help effectively reduce stress and lower cortisol, enhance mood-boosting chemicals (i.e. serotonin) and aid in sleep quality.
Protein requirements vary from person to person; depending on age, weight, sex, activity level, and general health. Lean muscle mass is an accurate way to determine protein needs, but you can also use your activity level to help estimate optimal protein intake.
Who Should Use a Protein Supplement?
While everyone needs adequate daily protein intake, certain populations are more at risk of deficiency and could benefit from extra supplementation. Those who have busier lifestyles may not have time to prepare or consume enough protein, may often feel fatigued and hungry, turning to stimulants and comfort food to compensate. Diabetics are also often at risk of low protein. Seniors naturally lose muscle elasticity and tone with age and struggle with impaired immune systems. Youth who are growing and/or “picky-eaters” may not be attaining enough protein from the diet. Lastly, active people have higher protein needs than sedentary people so it is essential to replenish properly after exercise.
What to Look For?
Look for whey protein powder sourced from grass-fed cattle, raised without the use of hormones or antibiotics. Choose a brand that uses low temperature, chemical-free processing to ensure the protein is undenatured and retains key subfractions. Also, ensure the product has no artificial sweeteners or GMO ingredients.
-This column in sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach-