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Whey Protein: The Basics

By Bob Seebohar

wheyWhy whey? Aren’t all proteins equal? Some would think yes but the hard truth is that whey protein is one of the best proteins that you can consume.

Whey protein, which comes from dairy, is a powerhouse complete protein. It is considered to be the “fast” protein because of how rapidly it is absorbed by the body. Because of its quick speed of digestion, it can increase the amino acid pools in the body. When these amino acids are in high quantity, the body can use them at anytime to help rebuild muscles. Whey is also rich in Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), which are known to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

Whey protein has been shown to increase muscle tissue development which can benefit all athletes. Think of it as preserving the muscle you have worked so hard at developing. The last thing you would want is to lose your muscle. Unfortunately, as we age, we do begin to lose muscle (termed sarcopenia) which can negatively affect our development of power and speed along with our health. Utilizing whey protein throughout the day can help slow the progression of muscle loss, especially used at frequent times and before and after workouts. In fact, much research supports consuming a range of 25-35 grams of total protein at each meal to keep muscle protein synthesis adequate and helping keep the body full.

Another great benefit of using whey protein is that it increases what is called “diet induced thermogenesis”, which simply means the body will burn more calories trying to digest the protein and this can have a tremendous positive impact for those with weight loss or weight management goals. It helps to stabilize blood sugar which allows the body to be more metabolically efficient and use more of its internal fat stores as energy.

And fear not for those who are lactose intolerant or sensitivities to dairy products for whey protein can still be consumed, especially when in isolate form because whey protein isolate has less than 2 percent lactose in it. (Editor's note: if you are allergic to lactose you may want to avoid using whey protein.)

Using whey protein isolate throughout the day will help to keep energy levels high, will aid in body weight goals and improve recovery after exercise. You can find whey protein in products such as whey protein enhanced yogurt, drinks such as Generation UCAN and Mix 1, certain energy bars such as Detour and some Quaker oatmeal varieties and of course, plain whey protein isolate powder which is very easy to use in many products including fruit smoothies. No matter what you choose, it is a fact that whey protein can help slow the loss of muscle mass, improve your feeling of fullness throughout the day and help maintain a good body weight and composition.

Metabolic Efficiency TrainingBob Seebohar was the 2008 Olympic Sport Dietitian and was the personal sport dietitian for the USA Triathlon Olympic Team. Bob is also an elite triathlon coach and works alongside Susan Williams, 2004 Olympic Triathlon Bronze medalist, delivering coaching services to professionals, age-groupers and youth in Littleton, Colo. Bob’s book, “Metabolic Efficiency Training: Teaching the Body to Use Fat”, is a great resource for athletes to learn how to teach the body to become more efficient in using its fat stores. Visit www.fuel4mance.com for more information or contact him at coachbob@fuel4mance.com.

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