You see people in the gym, in the office, or walking down the street with their protein shakes. Some take them during a workout, some immediately after, and some sip on them throughout the day. The health and fitness industry talks about whey protein all the time. You’re not sure. You’ve just started the gym, or you want to keep your costs down. Or you’re not sure if whey protein is healthy for you. You’re asking yourself: Do I need whey protein?

Before we get into that, let’s talk about protein itself, and why it isn’t just for bodybuilders.

What is protein?

Protein is a macronutrient, which means that every person needs it to preserve a healthy body. Below are 4 reasons why you need protein:

  • It is a component of every cell in your body. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein
  • Your body uses it to build and repair tissue
  • You need it to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals
  • It is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood

How much protein do you need?

The basic recommendation for protein is 0.36g per lb of body weight in healthy adults. For someone who weighs 200lbs, this equates to 72g of protein.

However, this is only the basic recommendation, and the amount you need varies on your activity levels. 72g is only the minimum amount required to prevent protein deficiency, not the amount that is optimal, especially for people who exercise regularly.

This is when the number increases to between 0.8g and 1.2g per lb of body weight. Aim for the lower end if you’re moderately active, and aim for the top end if you’re extremely active. Our 200lb man would need anywhere between 160g and 240g of protein per day for optimal results.

Healthy sources of protein

Healthy sources of animal protein include:

  • Chicken or turkey
  • Lean cuts of beef or pork
  • Fish or shellfish

Other good sources of protein include:

  • Pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, and most other types of beans and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds, including almonds, hazelnuts, mixed nuts, peanuts, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, or walnuts
  • Tofu, tempeh, quorn, and other soy protein products
  • Low-fat dairy products, including eggs, cottage cheese, greek yoghurt, cheese and milk

Can I eat too much protein?

The simple answer is no. There’s no evidence that consuming too much protein is bad for you. People have suggested that higher protein diets will have a negative effect on your bone density, and hurt your kidneys. This isn’t true.

Now...

What is whey protein?

Whey protein is a liquid by-product of cheese, and is sold as a supplement in various forms, such as protein shakes, protein bars, protein flapjacks, and many more. Whey protein is one of the two proteins found in cow’s milk, so there is certainly nothing harmful in whey.

Of the 20 amino acids in your body’s proteins, 9 are essential to your diet because your cells cannot manufacture them: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Whey protein is “complete,” which means it contains all 9 essential amino acids.

Types of whey protein

There are 3 different types of whey protein:

  • Whey Protein Concentrate. This goes through minimal processing, but usually has higher amounts of carbohydrates and fats from lactose. Protein content can be anywhere between 30% and 90%, although it is usually between 70% to 85%. This is the most common, and cheapest forms of whey available.
  • Whey Protein Isolate. This requires more processing (to remove the lactose), so is usually more expensive. Protein content is 90% or higher.
  • Whey Protein Hydrolysate. Water is added to the production process to make digestion by the body easier. This comes at an increased cost.

Do I need whey protein?

Protein shakes aren’t necessary, as long as you are meeting your protein requirements per day (between 0.8g and 1.2g per lb of body weight for people who exercise regularly) from other food sources.

This is where the problem lies. 100g of chicken breast contains around 30g of protein, so you’d need at least nearly 7 of these a day in order to meet your requirements, if you weigh 200lb.

This is where whey protein comes in, and the reason why it is the most widely used supplement in the health and fitness industry. If you aren’t able to meet your daily protein requirements through food, consider adding whey protein to your diet. The type of whey protein you choose will depend on a range of factors, such as budget, taste and digestibility. If you’re on a budget, Whey Protein Concentrate is your best shout.

If you do decide to supplement your diet with whey protein, ensure that you are still getting quality proteins from a range of different sources.

About me

I’m Ravi - a qualified personal trainer and fitness blogger, who teaches people how to transform their bodies and lives through fitness and nutrition. I’m also the CEO of Sports Samurai , an online store selling high quality gym bags and backpacks - you don’t want to miss these, so click the link. Feel free to like us on Facebook here for more articles, tips, and product information.

Author's Bio: 

I’m Ravi - a qualified personal trainer and fitness blogger, who teaches people how to transform their bodies and lives through fitness and nutrition. I’m also the CEO of Sports Samurai, an online store selling high quality gym bags and backpacks - you don’t want to miss these, so click the link. Feel free to like us on Facebook here for more articles, tips, and product information.