None of us can live without protein – we need proteins for every single function our bodies perform.
In the West, our average daily dose of protein is 50g. But if you train hard and want your body to repair and build muscle tissue, you’ll need to take in around 150-200g per day. That’s a lot of protein to take in from food alone.
Many bodybuilders supplement their diets with whey protein. A whey protein shake contains around 40g of protein, so adding 3 shakes to your daily diet will get your protein consumption to where you need it.
Why whey protein?
Whey protein comes from cow’s milk. It is made by isolating the proteins found in whey – a natural byproduct of cheese making.
There are lots of different of protein isolates on the market, but whey protein is by far the most popular among bodybuilders, athletes and sportsmen. That’s because it is:
• a complete protein source – meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids.
• rapidly absorbed by the body.
• cost effective.
• easy to take.
Whey protein comes in two forms: concentrate and isolate. Concentrate costs less and contains more nutrients (namely lactose and fat). Isolate has a higher and purer protein content. It contains no lactose, carbohydrates or cholesterol, but is more expensive.
What if I am lactose intolerant?
If you suffer from lactose intolerance you should definitely choose whey protein isolate, which is free from or very low in lactose. If you have a food intolerance you should always check with your doctor before you take any dietary supplements.
What about cow’s milk protein allergy?
There are two proteins in cow’s milk that can cause allergic reactions – whey and casein (casein is found in the curd of milk). You can be allergic to one or both of these proteins, so it’s wise to stay away from whey protein powder altogether.
People with cow’s milk protein allergy are also likely to be allergic to other animal milks and in some cases to soy milk.
An easy alternative to milk-derived protein is egg white protein. It is fat and carbohydrate free and high in amino acids. You can consume egg whites in their natural state or as a powder.
I’m a vegan – what are my options?Image source: Mercopress
Soy is a great vegan alternative.
If you’re a vegan, soy could be a good alternative. It contains all the essential amino acids you need as an athlete. It is also cholesterol free, very low in fat and contains no carbohydrates, so it is great if you want to achieve lean muscle mass.
So could you live without whey protein?
Well, yes you could – but only if you have to.
Whilst there are other forms of protein supplement available, in terms of bio-availability (the rate at which our bodies process and use something), whey protein beats everything else hands down – including meat, egg, dairy and soy.
So if you’re not averse to dairy and have no dairy-related intolerances or allergies, we recommend taking whey protein as an essential part of your muscle-building regime.
Find out your recommended daily protein intake with our protein calculator.