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Protein Supplements: the "whey" to go or not?

Published: December 17, 2020

Protein in a packet
Protein in a packet

In North America, sales of nutritional supplements, including "sports nutrition" products, bring industry multi-billion dollar revenues.

A good proportion of these revenue dollars comes from the sale of protein and whey protein supplements.
Just walk down the aisles of your local pharmacy, health food store, or even the pharmacy section of your local supermarket and it is difficult to avoid an array of protein supplements.
Often these supplements claim to do just about everything to improve your health, energy, and build muscle.
Claims suggest that consuming just x grams of "YZ muscle" will have you looking like the incredible hulk or the most recent celebrity body of the week, month or year.
Some protein supplements also claim to improve weight loss.
If you've been trying to build muscle, lose weight, and/or increase your energy you may well be tempted to spend a "few" cents/dollars a day on supplemental protein.
Muscle builders and many athletes swear that protein supplements improve their performance.
However, despite the availability of protein and whey supplements, and the public demand for them, evidence from nutritional research studies which support claims is surprisingly limited.
There is no clear indication as to whether or not protein supplements actually provide health benefits.
Protein supplements may provide health benefits for malnourished and/or older people, but what do they do for generally healthy people? Studies indicate that: 

  • Protein supplements may be harmful to health
  • Many claims are unfounded or founded on a lack of understanding of energy metabolism
  • Protein supplements have not been shown to do anything that dietary protein cannot do

In addition, many claims make the false suggestion that you need to consume twice as much protein as recommended by expert nutritional advisors. 

Excess protein in your diet is synonymous with throwing money down the drain as protein consumed that is not used by your body will be excreted.
But wait a minute don't you need protein for energy and to boost your immune system? 
Before going any further let's take a look at what protein supplements or whey supplements are. Protein supplements are dietary...Link to the full article to learn more.

Related Topics

Diet  Health  Food Choices  Nutrients  Protein 


Whitney, E. & Rady Rolfes, S. (2005). Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth
Wolfe, R.W. (2000). Protein supplements and exercise. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 72, pp. 551S-557S
Akhavan, et al. (2009). Effect of premeal consumption of whey protein and its hydrolysate on food intake and postmeal glycemia and insulin responses in young adults American Journal Clinical Nutrition 91/ 4 966-975
Pennings et al. (2011). Whey protein stimulates postprandial muscle protein accretion more effectively than do casein and casein hydrolysate in older men. American Journal Clinical Nutrition. 5/ 997-1005;