Whey for Weight Loss and Immunity?

October 29, 2014

Protein is all the rage these days and more and more people are adopting snack options and meal replacements that contain whey protein. Find out the top five things you need to know here.

Protein is all the rage these days and more and more people are adopting snack options and meal replacements that contain whey protein. Find out the history of whey and top nutritional things you need to know here.

Whey is a natural substance, the liquid part of fresh milk that is leftover from the making of cheese, and has been used for health related reasons for more than 24 centuries! In fact, Hippocrates (446-337 BC), the father of medicine, prescribed it to his patients. Following him, Galen (131-200 BC), another founding father of medicine, advised his patients to use whey. Since then, it has been a recommended substance for improving health in many different regions of the world.

A more recent history. Cheesemaking. Today, we know the most valuable ingredient in whey is the whey protein. Milk contains two types of protein – casein and whey proteins. When making cheese, most of the casein ends up in the cheese and most of the whey protein ends up in the whey. In the early days of large-scale cheesemaking, cheesemakers would have to be creative to find uses for their whey (considered a waste product). Early on, farm cheesemakers fed the whey directly back to the animals as a protein source. Once cheesemaking became industrial and moved off the farm, the industry had to find another way to dispose of all that “waste”. Because whey is an excellent source of protein the cheesemaking companies began marketing their leftover product to companies, which make protein-enriched products such as protein shakes and bars.

Weight loss, specifically body fat. Researchers in Minnesota conducted a 12-week study where subject’s daily caloric intake was reduced by 500 calories. They then gave some participants whey and the rest were given an equal caloric beverage. Those consuming the whey beverage lost a greater amount of body fat (6.1% total) and better preserved their muscles. The whey group also had significantly reduced levels of ghrelin (a hormone that tells your brain you’re hungry) up to four hours later. Instead of munching on unhealthy party snacks or mindlessly in front of the TV, drink a protein shake, it will keep you feeling full and might even help to shed some body fat.

Balance blood sugar. Scientists demonstrated that whey can reduce the risk of developing type II diabetes. Researchers placed mice on a high-fat diet for eleven weeks and gave one group whey protein in their drinking water. With no other intervention, the whey-protein mice improved both their glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. They also maintained lower weight and greater percentage of lean body mass, compared to control mice consuming the same daily calories but without the added whey. The team concluded that whey protein boosted metabolic rate in the test group and may be beneficial in preventing the development of type II diabetes.

Boosts the body’s master antioxidant. Glutathione, considered the most powerful antioxidant in your body, is responsible for protecting cells, promoting liver health, and low levels can impact the nervous, gastrointestinal, and immune systems. Whey protein has demonstrated an ability to boost glutathione, especially in those who exercise, because it provides all the key amino acids for glutathione production (cysteine, glycine and glutamate). Look for cold pressed whey protein derived from grass fed cows, and free of hormones, chemicals and sugar.