Close-Up: Whey Protein

Two of my  friends are training for the NYC marathon and they are convinced that   whey protein smoothies  are essential for their success.    For years I’ve seen whey in  big bellied jars illustrated with pix of body builders at the local health food store.  I assumed  that whey protein  was  just  to build big  lumpy muscles,  but when two normally rational  people had such faith in it, I knew that I needed to take a closer  look at the nutritional pros and cons.

Whey protein is the substance that is leftover  when milk is made into cheese– and is one of the purest protein sources.  It is used primarily by body builders and athletes to increase muscle mass and improve performance.    Whey can also be helpful for weight loss and provide protein  for strength and repair after a  serious illness.

You will find three types of whey  products on the shelves:

* whey protein concentrate is the lowest in fat and about 75% pure protein.  ( for comparison  lean red  meat is 20% protein).  It is the least expensive, but has the  highest amount of lactose. 

* whey protein isolate is the purest form of whey and about 90% protein. It is the most expensive but the lowest in lactose

* Combo of whey protein isolate and concentrate is more affordable  with  very low  levels of  lactose.

Lactose   is often blamed for the cramps and bloating that some people experience with whey protein, so  lower  levels are thought to  decrease  risk of tummy  problems.

The nutritional credentials of whey  protein is awesome !  A 100 calorie portion  is fat free, has less than 5 grams of cholesterol, just   1 gram of carb and a whopping  20 grams of first rate  protein.  By comparison, 100 calories of skim milk ( 1/2 cup) has 3 grams of fat, 11 grams of carbs and just 8grams of protein.   If you’re looking for protein, whey is a super option.

You can use whey protein in cookies, crackers and energy bars, but the most popular recipes are for  whey smoothies.  You can find  vanilla and chocolate whey mixes that are delicious but   they add a bit of sugar.  I experimented with unflavored whey  and came up with  my new favorite breakfast.   I know its corny but I call it my Beauty Smoothie.  Its rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, and protein, keeps  me  happy until lunch and clocks in at  just 200 calories.

Beauty Smoothie

Ingredients: 1  scoop of  plain whey powder, 3/4 cup sliced strawberries, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup cold water, 3/4 cup crushed ice

Method: Combine whey powder, strawberries, banana and water in a blender or  food processor.  Blend  for a few second, then add ice chips and blend until nice and smooth.  Pour into a tall glass for a sweet, smooth thick super shake.

3 thoughts on “Close-Up: Whey Protein

  1. Just a quick warning for people with acne. Whey protein is insulinogenic, meaning it can rapidly increase insulin levels. That’s really, really bad for anyone struggling with hormonal acne, which is pretty much anyone who has acne. While there are also other reasons why acne is quite common among bodybuilders, I believe that use of whey protein powders is one of the main ones.

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