(WellnessNova.com) - Protein is essential for weight loss. A high-protein diet boosts metabolism, reduces appetite, and shifts many weight-regulating hormones (1,2). It can help you lose weight and belly fat, making it an intricate part of anyone’s diet who is looking to slim down.
A popular way people incorporate protein is into their shakes using protein powder. But not all powders are created equal. And if you opt for a below-average kind, you can find yourself turning your healthy shake into a high-sugar nightmare, and even creating food intolerances.
Whey is the byproduct of cheese production after milk has been curdled and strained, and it’s big in the health and fitness world. Scour the aisles of many styles of stores offering shake supplements, and you’ll undoubtedly find whey protein to be abundantly prevalent. Manufacturers put whey on a pedestal, marketing it as an optimal meal-replacement powder for burning fat and building muscle. But whey isn’t being truthfully represented. Here are six things you need to know:
1. Whey won’t keep you satisfied.
Shakes are supposed to keep you satisfied, but if you’re feeling hungry after consuming a whey-based shake, it’s because whey’s bioavailability is extremely high, meaning it gets absorbed very quickly. While this might be optimum for replenishing muscle cells after exercising, it’s not ideal for replacing a meal.
2. Whey can lead to excess fat.
While this statement seems to go against your reasoning for consuming whey, it’s a very true reality. Research shows that whey can increase insulin levels more than a piece of white bread. When insulin is raised, it signals the body to store fat.
3. Whey has lactose.
There are two main types of whey: concentrate and isolate. In whey concentrate powder, about half of the carbohydrates come from lactose. Whey isolate has been further processed and filtered to eliminate more lactose, but can still contain traces of it. Research shows that lactose intolerance affects 75 percent of people worldwide, with a little exposure capable of going a long way. It’s best not to trust even traces of lactose if you fall into this category.
4. Whey contains dairy.
The government and various medical outlets have been recommending that Americans consume milk daily as part of a healthy diet for years. Harvard pediatrics professor David Ludwig, MD, PhD even says it’s “perhaps the most prevailing advice given to the American public about diet in the last half century.” But this advice isn’t cutting it anymore, with researchers suggesting that we might want to reconsider the role we are letting cow’s milk play in our nutrition. In fact, it may be doing us more harm than good due to the sugar found in even plain, nonfat milk.
Dairy can also become a food intolerance that creates issues like inflammation, weight-loss resistance, and skin issues, like acne.
5. Commercial whey can contain bad-for-you ingredients.
Many commercial whey products are poorly made, taking the cheap way out to mass produce, as opposed to provide a quality product. This means that whey often comes from cows living in inhumane conditions that have been treated with antibiotics. High-heat production is also often utilized, which only weakens the delicate amino acids that people using whey need to get its benefits. Many commercial whey powders may have added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and various unhealthy additives to keep it on the shelf longer.
6. Whey has an unbalanced nutrient composition and poor micronutrient profile compared to other well-known sources of protein.
Meat, seafood, and eggs are all high on the protein charts and have a superior nutrient profile as opposed to whey protein. While they offer a lower protein density than whey protein powders, this may be a good thing, as research has found that too much protein isn’t actually a positive attribute. It can even fuel weight gain, yeast overgrowth, and cancer.
Furthermore, getting your protein from fish, grass-fed meat, and eggs ensures you’re also getting essential fatty acids that you can’t get from whey protein supplements.
Here’s What You Should Consume Instead
There are a plethora of non-whey protein options at your disposal. But be mindful of what you’re replacing your whey with, because if you don’t do your research, you could simply be replacing one harmful supplement for another, like soy, which studies have found can actually contribute to weight gain.
Plant-based powders to try include pea, rice, chlorella, and chia. If you want animal protein, choose defatted grass-fed beed protein, which provides an impressive amino acid profile and won’t create food intolerances.
Now that you’re more aware of whey protein powder’s shortcomings, you can make a more educated decision whether to choose it over other protein supplements.