I have been so busy participating in the Blogging Marathon this week, that I almost forgot that this month is ‘Food Find’ month. I have been writing about my food finds every other month on my blog as an attempt to share some healthy foods I have discovered and their benefits. This month’s Food find is ‘Whey Protein’.
Although the Indian vegetarian diet is healthy with the inclusion of vegetables and dals, it is heavy with carbs. There is very little protein available in the diet, and I discovered this to be a challenge when working on my gestational diabetic diet. To overcome this, I started adding ‘Whey protein’ to my diet to up my protein intake. Whey Protein is typically associated with body building, as a way to build lean muscle mass. Although this how it is heavily marketed, that is not the only purpose or benefit achieved from whey protein. Here is some basic information I have learnt through my research. (Note: I am sharing my own experience here, please consult a doctor or dietician before you make any dietary changes.)
What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is the protein contained in whey, the watery portion of milk that separates from the curds when making cheese. The fat from this watery portion is then removed and dried or processed to yield whey protein.
Do I need Whey Protein?
Remember that Protein is vital to our body’s function. It helps our cells grow, replace themselves and repair themselves. Our bodies are capable of making protein on its own from 12 amino acids it can produce. The other 9 amino acids have to be obtained from dietary protein. Whey protein is one such source that provides all the 9 amino acids in one shot, without added fat and in a more absorbable form. Other sources include meat, eggs, cheese, nuts, beans and lentils etc. Depending on how much of protein you already intake in your diet, you can decide whether you need to supplement with something like whey protein.
If you are an athlete, working out, or going on a diet where you are cutting down on carbs, it is important that you take an adequate amount of protein in your diet. For people experiencing significant growth — children, adolescents, pregnant women — protein is important. These bodies aren’t just maintaining, they’re producing.
Where and How is it available?
All the protein bars and protein shakes that you see on the market, most often include some form of whey protein. You can also buy it in powder form at almost all super markets. For more variety, you could go to a health food store or a Vitamin/supplement store. The whey protein powder is available in many different flavors. I have chocolate(pictured), vanilla and unflavored whey protein powders that I put to use in several ways. Just as with fruit juice, there are variations or types of whey protein available in the market. I always go with 100% whey protein isolate, or the closest you can find to 100%, as they are processed to retain the amino acids but don’t have excess fat or lactose.
What are the health benefits of Whey Protein?
Provides the most optimal source of essential amino acids which is critical for the repair and growth of muscle tissue – particularly after a workout.
Boosts immune function by increasing levels of glutathione (the most potent antioxidant in the body).
Helps to maintain balanced nutrition by supporting both healthy weight-loss (as an appetite suppressant) and muscle enhancing nutritional programs (whey protein is the precursor to building muscle tissue).
Whey protein is also used for protein allergy, asthma, high cholesterol, obesity and weight loss, preventing allergies in infants, late-stage cancer, and colon cancer.
What are the side effects of Whey Protein?
As with all proteins, long-term intake may be associated with deteriorating kidney function and possibly osteoporosis.
High doses of whey can be harmful to the liver.
How can I include Whey Protein in my diet?
The most simple way is to use it smoothies and shakes(pictured). But, in a while the protein shakes and smoothies get boring. I have learnt that whey protein can be used in a lot of goods along with almond or coconut flour to add body and boost nutrition. I have tried this out and have had a lot of success with it. You can find an example in my Peanut Butter Almond Flour muffins. I will be sharing my recipes that use Whey protein in the usual as well as unusal ways. Stay tuned!