Protein is an important part of a balanced diet for healthy muscle function and repair. Most people who eat a good variety of nutritious foods will be able to consume sufficient levels of protein solely from their diet. For some people -- particularly competitive athletes, individuals who work out particularly strenuously, or people who are too busy to always eat enough protein in their meals -- whey protein powder can be a good form of supplementation.
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Whey and casein are the two sources of protein contained in ordinary cow's milk. In and of itself, whey has little to no taste -- it is actually a liquid byproduct that is left behind when milk is made into cheese. However, the dry, powdered protein supplement made from whey can be purchased in flavoured varieties, like chocolate, from many different fitness and nutrition companies.
Three different types of protein are contained in whey -- serum albumin, beta-lactoglobulin, and alpha-lactalbumin. Altogether, a typical 1/4-cup scoop of protein powder contains about 20 to 25 g protein -- the exact amount of protein content will vary from brand to brand. The protein you consume from whey powder factors into your total daily protein intake, which can also come from other sources, such as nuts, lean meats and soy products.
According to a 2007 "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition," individuals who are physically active should consume between 1.4 and 2 g protein per day per kilogram of body weight -- that is roughly equivalent to between 0.6 and 0.9 grams of protein per 1 lb. bodyweight. For example, a person who exercises regularly and weighs about 13 stone 3 lbs. should eat 111 to 166 g protein per day. Of course, this protein should not all come from whey protein powder -- this is the total recommended intake from your entire diet.
You may have heard that consuming whey protein powder, particularly in large quantities, can cause kidney disease. It is true that individuals with preexisting kidney disease should be cautious about their protein intake, since consuming excess protein can overload your kidneys and even cause them to fail. However, for individuals with healthy, normally functioning kidneys, any excess protein should be processed with no complications.
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- Centres for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
- MSNBC: Protein 101: How much do you need?; Madelyn Fernstrom; Aug. 29, 2006
- “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” ; International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: Protein and exercise; Bill Campbell, et al.; September 2007
- Rice University: Protein requirements for athletes
- My Fitness Pal: Calories in GNC Pro Performance 100% whey protein powder chocolate