For the last two decades, whey protein powder has always been a staple for athletes, bodybuilders, and busy fitness enthusiasts on the go.
Over the years it’s become even more popular because it’s cheaper, more widely available, more soluble in liquids (it mixes better without the lumps), and tastes better.
But is whey protein powder the right option for you and your fitness needs? Here are the pros and cons of whey protein powder from a dietary and physical performance perspective.
Benefit #1: Affordably Priced
Whey protein powder varies in price depending on the type that you purchase (isolate, concentrate, hydrolyzed, or mixed with other protein powders), the brand that you purchase, where you purchase it, and the quantity container that you purchase it in.
But one thing is for sure, the value is almost always there. You can buy average whey protein powder for around $10 a pound and that gets you a lot of protein per dollar compared to other plant or animal sources.
Like any other product in the world, there are higher end brands and lower end brands for whey protein and price will reflect that. If you buy in bulk like a 3-5 lb container you’ll get a much better deal than a 1-2 lb container.
And if you order online from discount supplement shops or Amazon, you will save a lot as well.
Benefit #2: Low Fat & Low Carb
One of the biggest benefits of whey protein is that it provides a high quality complete protein source without the high levels of fat found in most animal sources such as beef, pork, fish turkey, eggs, and chicken.
It also contains very negligible amounts of sugar or overall carbs. This is key for people dieting and watching their carbohydrate and fat intake, or if they are looking to get in those macronutrients from other sources.
You can keep your carbs and fats lower with whey protein than you can with steaks, burgers, pork chops, or scrambled eggs.
Benefit #3: Convenient & Non-Perishable
Whey protein is incredibly easy to take on the go . It’s also non-perishable as long as you avoid excessive heat or moisture so you don’t have to worry about it spoiling like your average plant or animal sources of protein.
Take it with you in a shaker cup with water/juice/milk, mix it into a blended fruit smoothie, use it for baking, or even add in small amounts as a topping. It’s a lot easier (and less smelly) to bring whey protein powder with you during the day compared to chicken breasts or fish.
Downside #1: Varying Quality
The quality of whey protein can certainly vary depending on the type of whey and the brand that you purchase. Some types of whey protein such as isolate are more purified than other and some have more filler like whey concentrate.
Taste and consistency can also vary greatly from brand to brand. Basically, no two whey protein powders are exactly alike unless they’re manufactured by the same company in the same facility.
And if the protein powder isn’t FDA regulated then you never know for sure what you’re getting…
Downside #2: Not Always FDA Approved
There are two other classifications of whey protein powder in the USA: food products or dietary supplements. The first classification is whey protein that has been FDA approved and considered like any other food product you’d find at a grocery store.
That means its ingredients and manufacturing process has been approved by the United States government as accurately labeled and safe for consumption. The second classification is of a dietary supplement. That means the protein powder is not FDA approved and has not met all of the strict requirements set by the government.
This could be because the company simply didn’t want to seek FDA approval (it can be a lengthy and expensive process), or it could be that the contents are questionable. There have been countless cases of contaminated whey protein powder containing pro-hormones, stimulants, or carcinogens over the years.
While the FDA certainly isn’t immune to making mistakes on food products, without an FDA approval you really don’t know what exactly is in your protein powder.
Downside #3: Artificial Ingredients & Filler
Like many foods and supplements, whey protein powder is often accompanied with artificial ingredients and filler to improve taste, increase shelf-life, or improve consistency when dissolved in liquid.
Most of these are usually sugars, artificial sweeteners like sucralose or aspartame, vegetable oils, or thickeners / gums. The majority of people would agree that in small amounts these fillers and sweeteners are probably harmless in small amounts, if you are going to take whey protein powder every day or multiple times a day then it can add up.
Some individuals might also have more of an issue with these added ingredients than others.
Whey protein can be a healthy, versatile, and affordable part of your diet or supplement regimen. If you want to take whey protein powder, make sure you take the right kind for your goals and that you clear with a medical professional.
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