Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. -Jim Rohn
Do you think whey protein shakes help you in terms of endurance recovery?
For any athlete, recovery plays a vital role to improve performance and whey protein seems to be the most recommended solution these days by plenty of sources. Contrary to what you may have been led to believe about whey protein shakes from reading online or listening to the most jacked guy at the gym, it is not the ultimate recovery food. Surprised? In disagreement? Let me elaborate on why I stopped taking whey supplements and how it’s an unnecessary part of your daily diet.
Before I go further, I must acknowledge that I used to take whey protein shakes as well. I too made the mistake of following the trend but the more I noticed that it’s not helping me to recover, the more I started questioning the effectiveness of it. Instead of searching for the best whey supplements, I started to research on how whey protein works after consumption.
“How whey is obtained?”- You may ask.
If you don’t know about whey then the answer is it comes from milk. Milk has two kinds of protein, whey and casein. Whey takes up 20% of the milk and the rest of the 80% is casein. Basically, when you separate the curd from the milk, the liquid that you find is the whey protein. Whey protein shakes are very popular as it is very fast absorbing and hence most popular recovery drink after any workout to promote increased fitness.
So it’s very enticing to take whey post workout, after all, it’s the magic pill to increase recovery and performance, right? Well, here are 5 reasons why I don’t think they are unnecessary and over-hyped.
1. Whey protein is highly insulinogenic
Yup, that sounds bad, but whey protein shakes raise the insulin level very fast. There are plenty of researches on whey protein, which found that between whey, white bread and glucose alone after digestion, whey had the highest insulin spike. If the insulin spike is irregular and frequent, it slows down the metabolism. In the process, more fat is stored in your body and your hunger level rises throughout the day.
2. Whey protein powders contain an unbalanced nutrient composition
Natural foods; unlike whey protein powder has a superior nutrient profile. When you take protein to enrich foods such as meat, fish, egg etc., you get a balanced dose of protein and other elements, which are missing, in whey protein powders. They are heavily skewed towards protein content but very rarely contain the necessary micro-nutrients, which are vital for recovery. Also, whey supplements contain artificial ingredients and sweeteners, which are unnecessary and deviate from the real foods in terms of nutrient profile.
3. Whey protein is similar to any other processed food
Drinking milk and taking direct whey protein powder is completely different. Usually, the manufactures use rigorous processes to extract whey and then convert it to its powder form. And whenever a substance is processed or made synthetically, even though it may be pure or 100% of the same stuff found naturally, it always works less effectively in the body.
A simple example, in this case, is the calcium. It’s one of the vital nutrients for the body and we need to take a very small amount, 1000mg/day. But calcium is notorious for it’s lack of absorption quality, so even if you take calcium tablets every day, most of it is going to go out with urine. The best way to obtain calcium is through milk, which proves that milk has all the necessary micro-nutrients, which help the calcium absorption better even though calcium tablets are the pure source of the same thing.
4. You don’t need post-workout whey protein shakes
I know, I’m going to get some debates on this point as a lot of people use whey protein shakes post workout due to its’ fast absorbing nature. The fact is, after the workout, you need more carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen stores. If you don’t take enough carbs, you’ll soon feel dizzy and your body will go into shock. In fact, your body will feel slow and you’ll actually notice your recovery is getting slower.
The optimum recovery food should have a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein in terms of common practice. So, that’s why many athletes consider chocolate milk to be a good recovery drink as it has that balance of both protein and carb. But whey supplements are heavily skewed with protein and as I have mentioned earlier, it raises the hunger level even though you take solid foods.
Whey supplements are expensive. A tub of Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard costs around 9000 BDT in our country. Per serving, it contains 24 grams of protein and costs 125 BDT. On the other hand, 4 eggs contain the same amount of protein yet costs around 40-45 BDT. So, in this case, you’re eating solid food with proper nutrient and protein in almost one-third of the cost. A win-win situation for you definitely.
I know this article will be controversial for some but you guys should keep in mind that whey supplements are not magic pills. Nature is much better at designing healthy foods than man. A high-quality protein powder isn’t the worst thing to include in your diet and I’m not against taking protein supplements in any way. However, I’m noticing a better result after taking my required protein from real food. I would suggest you to give it a try and see how your body reacts to recovery.
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