What You Need to Know About Whey Protein Isolate

When protein shakes started taking over the athletic world, it wasn’t long before we knew they were here to stay – these days you’d be hard-pressed to find a serious gym goer that doesn’t drink protein shakes. And the king of all protein supplements? Whey protein powder. Whether you’re new to the protein scene or you’ve been bringing a shaker bottle to the gym for years now, there are some important things you should know about whey protein powder.

First off – did you know there are actually three main kinds? That’s right. Browse through the supplement aisle and you’ll find whey protein powder concentrates, isolates and hydrolysates. Each one has slightly different properties based on the way it’s processed. Feel free to read up on hydrolysates and concentrates, but we’re going to focus on the powder with the purest form of protein: whey protein isolate.

What does whey protein isolate do for your body?

There are nine essential amino acids that our bodies can’t make but which we need to be healthy. Whey protein isolate contains all of those, making it a complete form of protein. Whey protein contains lots of glutamine, leucine and cysteine – amino acids which are great for repairing muscle tissue, reducing tissue damage, gaining and maintaining muscle mass, and even improving endurance. No wonder so many fitness enthusiasts turn to whey protein isolate for their post-workout pick-me-up!

Besides being a useful supplement for those looking to bulk up, gain lean muscle mass and recover from a tough day at the gym, whey protein can also:

  • Boost your immune system
  • Help prevent bone loss
  • Help control blood glucose levels
  • May help treat type 2 diabetes, inflammation and other conditions

How much protein do you need a day?

The average adult needs 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. That’s around 50 grams a day.
Most people get enough protein from their diets. Foods like eggs, poultry, nuts, cheese and other dairy products, fish and other seafood, legumes, seeds and some grains all contain various levels of protein. If you’re eating a varied diet, exercising a moderate amount and don’t have any underlying health conditions, supplementing your diet with whey protein isolate or other powders may not be worth it. However, athletes and active adults require nearly twice as much – anywhere from 1.2 to 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight.

How do I know if whey protein isolate is right for me?

Consuming whey protein isolate regularly won’t hurt you, but it can be expensive if you don’t need it. There are several demographics that will benefit from supplementing with whey protein powder:

  • Athletes and bodybuilders looking to increase muscle mass
  • Adults trying to manage their weight
  • On-the-go people who don’t get enough protein throughout the day from their diet

When should you drink whey protein during the day?

While there’s no one right time to consume your protein powder, it can be helpful to time it in a way that supports your health and fitness goals. When trying to decide the right time to consume protein supplements, you can consult a dietician, trainer or doctor. Also, here are the basic guidelines:

  • Trying to lose weight. Drink your protein in between meals to increase feelings of satiety and reduce the desire to snack or eat large meals.
  • Building muscle. Take your protein 15 to 60 minutes after exercising and no later than 2 hours after your workout for optimal results.
  • Increase energy. Take protein immediately before beginning your workout.
  • Prevent muscle deterioration. Consume smaller protein shakes or other protein supplements throughout the day rather than consuming it all in one go.

Do I have to work out to take whey protein isolate?

The short answer? No. Whey protein isolate is not only for those who spend their days at the gym; anyone can use it. Some whey protein lovers may not go to the gym and instead use the supplement to help:

  • Curb insulin spikes
  • Feel fuller for a longer period of time
  • Increase their energy and focus
  • Reach a healthy weight
  • Get better sleep

However, drastically increasing your protein intake with powdered supplements without similarly increasing exercise may cause some unwanted side effects on your wallet and your waistline.

Can whey protein isolate cause weight gain?

You may know that whey protein gives your muscles a boost when used a certain way, and that may cause weight gain. What you may not know is that weight gain isn’t necessarily limited to your muscles.
One of the main purposes of protein is to repair and build muscle. So, if there’s not much muscle to rebuild because you’re not exercising, that extra protein will break down into glucose and turn into fat. This can result in weight gain in other areas of the body.

Does whey protein increase belly fat?

When used the correct way, whey protein isolates are unlikely to cause an increase in belly fat – so use them wisely!
While high-protein diets often result in reduced belly fat, adding an extra protein shake to your regular meals can have the opposite effect. Many manufacturers include flavourings, additives and sweeteners that are high in sugar. If you don’t negate the added sugars and calories with exercise, chances are, you’ll gain a few pounds, especially in the belly area.

Can whey protein replace a meal?

Yes, there is usually nothing wrong with drinking a whey protein shake in place of a meal. That being said, make sure you don’t go overboard! It’s still very important to eat whole foods, not only for additional protein but also for fibre, minerals, antioxidants and other necessary elements that whey protein isolate doesn’t provide. Treat whey isolate as a supplement rather than a food group.

Is it okay to drink protein shakes on an empty stomach?

Not only is it okay to drink protein shakes on an empty stomach, but some people also prefer to. Protein increases feelings of satiety, making you feel full without needing to eat a huge amount of food. This is why a shake is a popular morning meal or meal replacement for athletes, parents, businesspeople – anyone and everyone can benefit from it. Augmenting or replacing your morning meal with a protein shake can give you added energy and satisfy your stomach without making you feel full or bloated.

The scoop on whey protein isolate – what is it good for?

There are so many benefits that come from using whey powder isolate – it’s not just for athletes! If you’re considering adding whey protein isolate to your diet, make sure to check in with a doctor or dietician and always be sure to read labels and follow the recommended daily intake.