Does Whey Protein Have Side Effects? Myths Debunked!

Jeff Baldelli
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Whey Protein: The Basics – What is Whey Protein?

Whey protein is a product that 99% of us have heard of. There are plenty of myths that people use to try and scare off people who are interested in this wonderful supplement. You could have heard that people claim that it is bad for your kidneys, that you gain weight or get really sick if you take it. But all of those are just myths that have been blown way out of proportion.

It is true that powder can make you feel bloated, but that is just temporary. You have also most likely heard that whey protein is quite expensive. This is not actually the truth. There are a number of different brands and you can buy it in bulk, which makes it very affordable.

There’s also the claim that you can’t take it every single day. This isn’t true. Some people talk about feeling sick after taking it, but again, we need to place this in context. If you are taking too much or too little it is going to throw your system off. If you are taking too much, you will feel bloated and uncomfortable. If you are taking too little, your body won’t get the essential amounts of protein it needs.

Experts estimate that you will need 20% more protein than your body is likely to use. In other words, you can take it every day without worrying about side effects.

Does Whey Protein Have Side Effects?

Whey protein has been around for a good long time, with its origins dating back to the early 1900s. It is named as such due to the whey by-product that is a by-product of cheese and curd production.

As a result of the modern day popularity of whey, it is now available in a range of different forms. These include but are not limited to:

  • Unflavored
  • Flavored
  • Cocoa
  • Vanilla
  • Grape
  • Chocolate
  • Chocolate cherry
  • Chocolate vanilla
  • Banana
  • Strawberry
  • Cherry chocolate
  • Peanut butter chocolate
  • Vanilla chocolate

This makes it extremely convenient for you to ingest, and the various flavor options make it easy to mix with shakes or even other ingredients.

In this post, we’ll look at two common myths related to whey protein, and we’ll talk about what the reality of it all is.

What are the Most Common Side Effects of Whey Protein Powder?

Whey Protein is excellent for gaining muscle but how much protein is too much? Whey Protein, which comes from milk, is only one of the two types of protein found in milk, the other being casein. When it comes to building muscle, protein is the king of nutrients and is found in every cell in our bodies. In addition to protein, milk contains a lot of amino acids, vitamins and minerals that are essential for humans. For some strange reason, milk has also become the target of a number of health myths that have been circulating for many decades.

Some of these myths probably came about in the past when people did not have enough milk to go around and associated all types of diseases with it. This myth is supported by a claim in the 1920s the linked tuberculosis to consumption of cow’s-milk.

In the 1960s, pasteurization became widespread and many types of milk disease were almost completely eradicated.

According to a study conducted by the Journal of Children’s Nutrition, the calcium in milk decreases the secretion of insulin in your body and may lead to hypoglycemia in newborns.

Let’s look at a few other common side effects of whey protein that people have and compare them with scientific research.

Whey protein causes a spike in insulin

Whey Protein and Digestive Problems

Whether you're just learning how to work out or you've been at it for years, chances are you've heard about whey protein as a supplement for muscle gains and fat loss. Whey protein is a dairy-derived supplement that is derived from milk as a byproduct of cheese-making.

Whey protein is used by bodybuilders to stimulate muscle growth and restore tissues damaged during exercise. Although whey protein itself is naturally produced and is beneficial to all levels of athletes, it can cause some digestive problems.

Whey protein is popular amongst bodybuilders because of the "pump" it can give the muscle, but can cause upset stomachs and other digestive problems.

Whey Protein and Kidney Problems

Besides your taste buds and your overall health, perhaps the most important decision to make when choosing between protein powders is "bioavailability." Let's face it, if you are investing in a protein powder, you probably want to get the best bang for your buck.

Many people assume whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate will have the same effect. In other words, you get all of the protein power with little of the taste. While whey protein isolate and concentrate do have similar nutrition facts, the methods by which they are processed produce different results. Whey isolate is processed under low temperature to preserve the majority of the protein, while whey concentrate, on the other hand, is processed at higher temperatures to increase the amount of lactose and carbs.

Because this process extracts more of the fats and carbs, whey concentrate may often lead to a larger spike in insulin levels. In fact, some protein powders made with whey concentrate may even cause a sharp decline in blood sugar levels if they are consumed without a larger meal or snack.

However, whey isolate undergoes an extra filtration step, which means it is more processing. This can help increase rise in insulin and can also increase its calorie content. As a result, while the protein content remains the same, you are getting fewer calories and slightly more fat than a whey concentrate.

Whey Protein and Liver Issues

One of the most common concerns about using whey protein is that it will have negative effects on your liver. Whey protein is a product of cheese, specifically the liquid that separates itself from the curds during the cheese-making process. Therefore, people with existing liver problems may worry that they will exacerbate their condition by consuming whey-based protein products.

But is this really a legitimate concern? Can whey protein cause liver damage? Although there are some studies out there that claim to suggest that this is the case, there are many more studies that show no correlation between whey protein and liver problems.

In addition, there are studies that show that whey protein may offer some health benefits specifically related to the liver. One study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that the addition of whey protein products to feed for animals that had chronic liver disease helped to improve their liver function.

When you break down the myth surrounding whey protein and liver issues, you begin to see that this is a non-issue. Whey protein is a very good, naturally occurring product of cheese production. If you consume cheese and other whey products on a regular basis and have liver problems, the cause clearly isn’t a protein source that your body makes use of to create proteins in general. This really isn’t an issue to worry about.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Whey protein powders are a great source of vitamins and minerals. Because whey is a by-product of the cheese making process, most protein powders are rich in calcium. You can also find whey protein powders that are fortified with vitamin C, vitamin D, and a multivitamin blend.

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you might be concerned about whether whey protein is the right supplement for you. The good news is that you have options. You might want to consider plant-based protein powders. Some of the better plant-based options include hemp, rice, and soy protein powders. It’s important to check the ingredients to make sure you are getting a complete protein source.

Allergic Reactions

There is no scientific evidence that shows or links whey protein powder to allergic reactions. This is a common myth, though, and a lot of people still believe it is true. Despite the fact that there is no scientific evidence to support this, a lot of people still believe it is true. This could be because whey products can cause digestive problems such as bloating, gas, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, diarrhea and constipation.

You can easily avoid these symptoms by taking the whey protein powder with food or drinking LOTS of water with the powder. Whey protein powder is a complete protein, meaning that it has all of the amino acids you need to maintain good health. Consequently, when you take a whey protein powder, your body does not require other proteins to thrive. In fact, it actually takes energy from the proteins you are ingesting from your other food.

The average person should take about 0.5 to 1.0 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight daily. This number will vary depending on your goals. If you are trying to build muscle, you may need to take a lot more.

Fat Gain

To begin with, it’s important to point out that the fat you gain from whey protein is mostly from the whey protein powders themselves. Most brands that include whey protein in their formulas are also fortified with added fatty acids to maintain the three-dimensional consistency of a powder. Some of the most commonly used ones are cocoa butter and cottonseed oil.

Ironically, the products that are based entirely on whey protein are commercially available as well. These are virtually fat-free, and the protein percentage is often higher than you will find in other products.

In any case, if you consume more than one gram of fat per weight unit of protein, your diet can quickly slip out of kilter. One hundred grams of whey protein provides about 17 grams of protein and only one gram of fat. You don’t need more than that.

Also, watch out for artificial sweeteners which can have many negative effects too.

Are There Any Other Disadvantages to Taking Whey Protein?

You should avoid taking whey protein if you have allergies to milk or milk products.

If you’re lactose intolerant, the lactose in whey protein may not sit well in your stomach. But don’t fear “ some people with lactose intolerance are able to eat a small amount of dairy without problems. You can try taking whey protein isolate to see how your body reacts.

Another thing that shouldn’t be mixed with whey protein is any stimulants. You should avoid taking whey protein if you’re taking any drug that stimulates the central nervous system, which includes cocaine, caffeine, amphetamines, and diet pills.

Taking these supplements together can trigger cardiac arrhythmia, which is a rapid or abnormal heart rate. It can also cause hypertensive crisis if you take stimulants with any diuretic, which include caffeine and alcohol withdrawal.

If you are sensitive to food coloring and dyes, which are often used as coloring agents in whey protein supplements, then you should be careful as well.

Other than that, most people can enjoy the benefits of whey protein without worrying about negative side effects.

TL;DR: Whey Protein Does Not Have Side Effects If You’re Healthy

Whey is one of the three main protein fractions in milk, and it’s a good source of nutrients.

When it’s isolated, it’s called whey protein. One form of whey protein widely available on the market are protein powders.

Whey protein powders are effective because they’re quickly absorbed and easy to mix with water. Many people have used whey protein powders as meal replacements. But is whey protein a healthy choice?

What are the whey protein side effects? Is there any risk of developing diseases when you consume whey protein?

Losing weight is a popular reason why people take whey protein powder. You should note that whey protein powders come in different strengths. A popular whey protein product, the Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder claims to be “100% Whey Protein Isolate and Hydrolysate,” which is the highest quality available on the market.

The most notable difference of whey protein from other sources of protein is that it’s a “fast-acting” protein. Whey protein powder is absorbed by the body more quickly than meat or fish.