When you think of whey protein, you may think of sports nutrition. Whey protein is known for its ability to help increase muscle mass, but the benefits aren't just for athletes. This functional food provides a number of benefits for well-being, and its nutritional profile gives it the potential to prevent disease and promote overall wellness.
Whey protein has the highest biological value of all proteins. Biological value is a measure that indicates how much of the protein you consume is actually absorbed, retained, and used in the body. Whey's high biological value is due to the fact that it has the highest concentration of the amino acid glutamine and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) found in nature. BCAAs are metabolized directly into muscle tissue and are the first amino acids used during exercise.
Whey protein's complete amino acid profile makes it a high-quality, easily digestible source of protein. It's also a great source of the amino acid leucine. Studies show that individuals who exercise and have diets high in leucine have less body fat and more lean muscle mass than people whose diets contain lower levels of leucine. Particularly when combined with resistance training, whey protein can help increase muscle mass and strength.
Athletes can clearly benefit from whey protein, but it's also important for anyone battling sarcopenia, or loss of muscle mass. Combined with osteoporosis, sarcopenia results in frailty and is linked to poor balance, falls, and fractures. Whey protein supplementation stimulates a mechanism that preserves muscle mass, and studies suggest that it helps minimize the loss of skeletal muscle mass in older people.
Whey protein may also have benefits for the immune system. It contains a number of components with immune-enhancing properties, including lactoferrin, glycomacreopeptide, beta-lactoglobulin, and immunoglobulins. Glutamine also helps boost immunity, making whey protein an immune system supporter.
Individuals trying to lose weight may also benefit from whey protein. It increases feelings of fullness, and studies find whey protein may help regulate appetite. Research also suggests that it may promote better weight loss when compared to lower-protein diets.
The scientific evidence on whey protein is growing, and studies continue to find new benefits to good health. For example, whey protein has been found to reduce blood sugar in both healthy people and those with type 2 diabetes. Limited research suggests that it may be helpful for acne and allergic skin symptoms. It may even be beneficial for people with cancer.
Whether you're trying to build muscle, prevent muscle loss, or support overall health, consider adding whey protein to your supplement regimen.
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