Whey Protein 101: Everything You Need To Know!

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Do you know all that you can gain from the best whey protein? Is your trainer persistently suggesting you take whey protein post-workout? Here you will find all there is to know about Whey protein.

This article will find out what whey protein is and the steps involved in making it. Also, we will take a look at three types of whey protein and their contents. Moving on further, we will counter the many benefits of whey protein and its importance in athletes and patients suffering from various long-term diseases.

On the other hand, we will be learning about all the side effects and myths associated with whey protein.


What is Whey Protein?

What is Whey Protein?

Protein is undoubtedly vital as it plays a crucial role in maintaining the wear and tear of muscles and bones. It also plays a prominent role in repairing tissue injury.

Whey protein is universally considered the finest quality protein. It includes all the nine vital amino acids the human body needs. It is often known as a ‘complete protein.’ Cow milk consists of 2 essential proteins, namely casein and Whey. Casein constitutes 80% of the protein, whereas the rest 20% is Whey protein.

Whey protein is a fusion of four proteins found in cow milk. These proteins are alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin, bovine serum albumin, and immunoglobulins.

A long time ago, cheesemakers used to throw away the liquid after separating the curds used to make cheese without realizing its significance.


How is Whey Protein Made?

How is Whey Protein Made?

We consume the Whey protein in powdered form extracted from milk in liquid form. About 4 to 6 grams of protein is extracted per liter from cow milk.

Here are the steps of how the making of whey protein takes place from the dairy farms where cows are milked is to the process of turning it into powdered form –

Step 1 –

Cows are brought to the pasture or milking parlor, where the milk is collected. Milking of cows is done 3 to 4 times a day by mechanical means. As this process is carried out on a large scale, it becomes impossible to do it manually.


Step 2 –

Large tanker trucks transport this milk to the processing center.


Step 3 –

After it reaches the processing unit, milk is thoroughly tested to ensure it is safe for utilization. Quality check for every raw material batch is critical as high-quality raw materials only achieve high-quality dairy products.


Step 4 –

Whey protein is obtained during the cheese-making process. When the milk is administered with enzymes, it separates into a solid and a liquid form. The solid form or curds are used in making cheese, while the liquid form contains whey protein.


Step 5 –

This liquid is then treated with heat to eliminate any pathogens and increase the substance’s shelf life.


Step 6 –

The Whey is further concentrated and purified. The two standard technologies used are:

1. Membrane filtration

2. Ion-exchange


Step 7 –

The whey protein is then dried to obtain a powder.

The whey protein powders sold in the market contain additional flavors to make them desirable. The most commonly consumed whey protein flavors include vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. The amount of protein content has an inverse relation with the taste.

AUTHORS NOTE – Whey proves explicitly to be fruitful in sparking growth. Human breast milk contains 60% Whey protein whereas cow milk only has 20%.


Types of Whey Protein:

Types of Whey Protein – 

Whey Protein is mainly classified into three groups: Whey Protein concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate, and Whey Protein hydrolysate.

1. Concentrate

Whey protein concentrate is the most broadly used protein. It contains protein percentage anywhere from between 20% to 89%. The remaining components of the product are lactose, minerals, fats, etc.


2. Isolate

This is an improvised version of Whey protein Concentrate. (WPI) has high protein concentration and a low amount of fat and lactose among the three. It does not have a pleasant taste. As further processing is required (WPI) is expensive.


3. Hydrolysate

Whey Protein hydrolysate is a gold mine for the benefits. (WPH) cuts the hard work body has to do to hydrolyze the protein and increase insulin levels without glucose intake. It also aids in stamina training for athletes and muscle building in bodybuilders. On the contrary (WPH) has a rancid taste and is the most expensive type of Whey protein in the market.

TYPE Concentrate Isolate Hydrolysate
Percentage of protein  Less than 90% 90% More than 90%
Sugar content  Low Low Nil
Fat 3-8% 1-2% Nil
Derivation Processed from milk Processed from Whey Hydrolysis performed on Whey
Form of Whey  Normal Highly Treated Extremely treated
Lactose  Upto 3.5 grams Upto 1 gram Nil


AUTHORS NOTE – Whey Protein hydrolysate is easily digestible and tends to have low chances of allergy. Hence it is a perfect medical protein supplement as well as it makes an ideal component in infant formulas.


Importance of Whey Protein – Whey protein is known to help a lot in numerous health and sports-related conditions. Whey protein has vast benefits. We all know that Whey is of foremost importance to bodybuilders and professional athletes, but it also builds immunity and consists of anti-aging qualities.

In addition, studies also suggest whey protein helps in training effectively and for a longer time. It also has positive effects on performance.

Whey protein lowers symptoms of stress and depression along with decreasing blood pressure.


Benefits of Whey Protein:

Benefits of whey protein – 

1. Muscle Growth

Protein plays a crucial role in maintaining muscles and gaining them. Whey consists of all nine essential amino acids the human body requires in repairing the muscles and developing new ones.

A study conducted on whey protein concluded that “whey protein supplementation during resistance training offers more benefit than resistance training alone.” published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.

Resistance training, when paired with whey protein supplements, shows better results than solely resistance training.


2. Reducing Cholesterol Levels

High cholesterol level leads to the risk of heart disease. Hence, it is necessary to cut down cholesterol levels. In countless studies and research held over the years, some constructive evidence has been discovered.

The British journal of nutrition researched 70 obese men and women over the duration of 12 weeks. They gave the participants whey supplements, and after 12 weeks, they measured the components such as insulin levels and lipids. It was observed that there was a remarkable drop in cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol levels.


3. Weight Loss

A 2008 study published in Nutrition and Metabolism shows that the people given Whey maintained lean muscle and lost body fat. Whey is an excellent dietary supplement aiding in the journey of weight loss.


4. Weight Gain/ Malnutrition

Whey protein is highly beneficial for people looking for a healthy way to gain weight. It is also a boon for people suffering from permanent and long-term illnesses and requires additional nutrition. If you cannot get the necessary protein from whole foods, you should take whey protein supplements.


5. Fighting Cancer

After conducting experiments on animals, it was observed that whey protein supplements display anti-cancerogenic activity. They do this by acting on GHS concentration. Whey stimulates immunity through the GHS pathway by increasing GHS concentration.


6. Reduce Inflammation

Whey protein may provide some relief against inflammation to patients with chronic conditions like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, etc.


7. Boosts BCAA Intake

Whey comprises vital branched-chain amino acids like cysteine and leucine.


8. Controlling Hunger

Protein tends to keep you full for a long time and keeps your carbohydrates at bay. So as long as you have sufficient protein intake, especially in the morning, you won,t be munching on that big bag of chips.

9. Increased Immune Response

A study involving 11 children published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition noticed that children with asthma who were administered with 10 grams of protein two times a day for one month witnessed better immune system response than others.

Research proves that leucine promotes growth throughout the body, whereas cysteine increases levels of Glutathione (GSH) which has the potential of averting damage to the cellular components.

AUTHORS NOTE – Studies show that whey protein intake reaps maximum benefits when taken before and after the workout. Most protein synthesis is carried out after training.



Factors such as age, gender, body composition, body size, hormone levels are critical determinants of how much protein one needs. A person who has just begun a regular workout will require less protein than a person who has been working out for a longer time.

According to the 2018 results of studies published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, you need to consume about twice the recommended daily dosage of protein to build muscle productively.

It is instructed to take 1.5 grams per kilogram.

Kelly Jones, a well-known dietitian and researcher in sports dietetics recommends taking whey products that are third-party tested. Doing so ensures that the products are safe to take,

AUTHORS NOTE– Whey is not Food and Drug Association (FDA) regulated, so it is crucial to seek reasonable opinion, particularly from a physician or dietitian.


9 Side Effects of Whey Protein:

Side effects of Whey protein – 

1. Acne

Being a dairy product, Whey may gradually lead to the build-up of acne.


2. Reaction with Other Medication

Whey protein may react with other medicines, reducing the absorption of those medications. Some drugs that do not pair well with Whey include antibiotics like Cipro and Pentax.


3. Digestion Issues

indigestion, diarrhea, and bloating are among the common digestive track-related side effects caused by whey protein.


4. High Dosage

A mild dosage of whey protein does not have any adverse effects whereas, a high intake may give rise to stomach pains, cramps, reduction in appetite, nausea, migraine, and exhaustion.


5. Contamination

As any recognized authority does not verify protein supplements, purchasing certified products for sports is essential. Many whey proteins may contain a large number of metal contaminants.


6. Processed Ingredients

Some whey protein contains artificial flavor and added sugar. If you need to take whey protein, look for the protein products as the only ingredient. It is always safe to have your protein intake through whole foods.


7. Affect Kidneys

Although whey protein does not affect healthy kidneys, it might negatively impact people with kidney diseases. A  diet with high protein leads to an increase in the internal pressure of the kidneys and causes damage. If you have deficient kidneys, It is necessary to consult with a medical practitioner before taking any whey protein supplements.


8. Gout

When people suffering from gout included whey protein in their diet, it further intensified the condition.


9. Blood Acid Level Reaching Its Peak

The pH level in our blood increases with increased protein intake. An increase in pH level leads to a rise in the acidic level of blood. Extra protein makes it difficult for the kidney to metabolize.


Lesser known facts about Whey:

  1. Whey protein is obtained by the most natural means.
  2. Whey protein is very convenient, especially for those who work all day and have no time to cook. 25-gram protein has protein equivalent to 100 grams of chicken breasts.
  3. 25 grams of whey protein powder consists of 2% Iron and 12% Calcium.
  4. One scoop of whey protein meets with about 5% of your daily potassium needs.
  5. Overall fat content in one scoop is 0.5 g, of which saturated fat is 0.3 g., and Trans Fat is 0 g.
  6. Lack of protein in the body can cause severe muscle loss.


Common Myths Associated with Whey Protein Intake:

Myth #1: All proteins such as casein, soy, etc., have similar benefits to whey

Soy and casein have slow digestion rates as compared to Whey. Whey is easily digested, making it superior to casein. Whey, soy, and casein all contain essential amino acids. However, Whey wins in the number of amino acid contents when it comes to comparison. Whey leads to lean muscle build-up and is loaded with bovine serum albumin, immunoglobulins, beta-lactoglobulin, and alpha-lactalbumin.


Myth #2: Women should not take whey protein

Whey protein is beneficial for both men and women equally. Indian council of medical research (ICMR) states the requirements of whey protein as 60 grams in males and 55 grams in females. The protein requirements in females are lower than males, although the protein requirements may increase depending on the exercise. There has been no evidence that Whey has adverse effects in females on inappropriate consumption. Biologically speaking, women won’t develop bulky bodies irrespective of weight training. It is indispensable that you take authentic products.


Myth #3: Whey protein leads to hair fall 

Whey is a protein supplement, and it does not lead to hair fall. Instead, it leads to healthier hair growth and strengthens it. On the other hand, in people with hormonal imbalances, it is vital to consult a dietician who knows your medical history and can tell you whether or not to take a whey protein supplement, as it may amplify the condition.

In research carried out on male participants, it was observed that testosterone converts into dihydrotestosterone on intake of some whey protein which has creatine as one of the ingredients, which sparks hair fall. It is essential to take supplements that have 100% pure whey. Better safe than sorry, right?


Myth #4: All Whey Protein Supplements have steroids in them

It is an unwarranted belief that whey protein contains steroids. As Whey is obtained from milk, it is a chief source of protein. Whey has a fast rate of absorption and builds strength. Whey contains essential amino acids, which serve as the building blocks in the overall development of the body and boost immunity.

A person who follows professional advice may benefit significantly from whey protein. Hence it does not cause any abnormal growth of cells and tissues, and it’s safe to say Whey isn’t a form of steroid.


Myth #5: Whey Protein Supplements is Only for Bodybuilders

Whey protein is generally linked with bodybuilders and athletes and hence assumed that it is not for everyone. On the contrary, it is for everyone. Many misunderstandings circling Whey have led people to believe that Whey is unsafe. Whey is a component of infant formula as it has fewer allergic reactions. Whey is widely used in patients with chronic and long-term illnesses. All the elements associated with whey protein can increase muscle endurance, stamina, and recovery from physical injuries. Any activity related to rigorous training requires some form of protein supplement.



1. Can whey protein alone help in muscle growth?

The most popular misconception is that whey protein consumption alone can help render muscle growth. Solely consuming Whey does not aid in increasing muscle mass. It would be best to pair your protein intake with exercise to reach your fitness goal.


2. Is whey protein vegetarian?

Vegetarians who do not eat meat highly depend on dairy products made from animal milk as a prominent source of protein intake.

Whey protein is a byproduct obtained in the cheese-making process. Hence it is Vegetarian.


3. Can cooking whey protein lead to degradation of its nutritional value? 

Cooking whey protein changes its chemical structure and may take longer to absorb. The contents, however, do not get affected.


4. Does whey protein harm joints in the long run?

Excluding the group of people with medical issues, there is no evidence that whey protein has long-term effects on joints. The purpose of this supplement is only to provide the nutrition your body lacks.


5. Does drinking whey protein on an empty stomach have any side effects?

Whey protein is an outstanding source of energy. Most experts recommend taking whey protein first thing in the morning as it rapidly sends amino acids to the body and prevents muscle breakdown. There is no harm in drinking whey protein on an empty stomach.


Conclusion –

Protein is the ace of nutrients for muscle gain and muscle repair. The suitable protein differs from person to person, depending on several aspects such as digestion, allergies, and health goals. If you have no idea which type of protein is right for your body, consider looking for the opinion of a professional dietitian.

This article covered everything there is to know about whey protein. We know how it’s made, what all benefits whey protein offers, side effects, dosage amount. Lastly, we countered the most common myths associated with whey protein.

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