A mixture of globular proteins separated from whey is called the whey protein. It is the material in liquid form, a by-product of the cheese production. It is obtained after the cheese is processed, when the cow’s milk conglomerates. After the fat is removed, it is processed for human consumption. Its processing is achieved by simply drying it or by increasing the protein content in it. Its constitution is 5% solution of lactose in water with some minerals and lactalbumin. Whey protein has three major forms: concentrate, isolate and hydrolysate. It is commonly known as a dietary supplement and is a hit amongst the alternative medicine community due to its many positive effects on the health. The clinical studies show that the whey protein may possess anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. It has a potential to reduce disease risk. Studies are being conducted to figure out if it is possible to use whey protein as a supplement treatment for several diseases. Whey proteins are extensively used in muscle building but its effect on the muscle growth is arguable. Some studies show that whey protein increases the body mass and strength in men, beneficial especially to those who are into body building. While, there are studies to show that there is absolutely no effect of whey protein supplementation on the body mass. Whey protein gets digested really fast in the system because of which it becomes very quickly available for the healing of the damaged muscle fibers in your body. The fact that whey protein dissolves quickly in the system is also one of the major disadvantages of why protein. Amino acid levels up to its highest and then starts to decline within 1 to 2 hours of digesting it. This stands in the way of muscle catabolism. People who are into dieting also opt for whey protein as it is known to decrease the appetite and promote weight loss. Consuming high quality protein has been known to increase the amino acid leucine levels, reducing the body fat while keeping the muscle mass intact. It is a good kind of protein to be taken during stress as the alpha-lactalbumin in whey protein helps to increase the serotonin levels. It also helps in lowering the blood pressure. There are no documented side effects of consuming whey protein, but there still are some probable side-effects of taking whey protein. Let us know more about these side effects in this article.
Harmful Effects of Whey Protein
- Probable Allergies: Whey protein is isolated from whey, which is a by-product of the cheese made from cow's milk. So, those who are allergic to lactose i.e. suffer from lactose intolerance, might develop allergic reaction from it. However, since whey protein contains a very small quantity of lactose, it will make the reactions less severe in intensity.
- Kidney Damage: It has been argued that long-term, excessive intake of protein (be it whey or any other) is associated with deterioration of the kidney function. However, there is no scientific backing to support this claim and experts believe that kidneys can be affected, if the consumption is in very high quantities and continues over the years.
- Increased Blood Acidity: Another probable side effect of consuming whey protein is that it can lead to an increase in the pH of blood. Excess protein in the blood makes it difficult for the kidney to metabolize it. This makes the blood acidic.
- Osteoporosis: Too much consumption of protein has been linked to osteoporosis, especially over the long-term. Intake of high amounts of protein can lead to an imbalance of minerals in the bones, which can result in the loss of bone mineral density.
- Digestion Problems: Some people suffer from extreme digestion problems due to the consumption of whey protein. It seems that their bodies cannot process this protein and break it down into simpler forms. The digestion problems may include: irritability, gas, bloating, tiredness, weakness, headaches, body cramps, fatigue, etc. Undigested protein gets stuck in the colon region, giving birth to bacterial fermentation. Therefore, gas and fatty acids are produced in the body.
- Denatured Protein: Most whey protein supplements have cystine in them, but in the denatured form. Cystine is an important amino acid, imperative for the production of glutathione in the body. Glutathione is essential for the proper functioning of the body as it produces strong antioxidants, which helps in running the cells of the body normally. Denatured cystine is produced when milk is pasteurized. Since whey protein is made out of an extensive process involved in conglomerating the milk, denatured cystine is found in the whey protein. It is unusable for the body and puts more pressure on the liver, kidney and digestive system to process it.
- Ketosis: Ketosis is a highly common side effect of consuming whey protein. This condition arises when more than necessary levels of ketone bodies are found in the blood. Ketone bodies are produced by a process called ketogenesis, by the liver. Ketosis in a person occurs when the glycogen stored in the liver is depleted quickly. This is the result of being on a low carbohydrate and high protein diet. Carbohydrate is the source of producing energy in the body. In the absence of enough carbohydrate, fat is burnt to produce energy. In extreme cases, when carbohydrate and fat both are unavailable for the production of energy, protein is used as energy source. This puts a lot of pressure on the liver, causing damage over the time.
Although, all of these are just the presumptive side effects of consumption of whey protein, nothing has been proved for definite so far. Therefore, it does not hold true for everyone. The side effects of whey protein depend on body to body. But you should remember that the excess of anything and everything is bad and the same is applicable to whey protein. Moderation is the key to leading a healthy life and you should keep this in mind while consuming anything, including whey protein. Most of the side effects associated with the protein are manifested over time, owing to excessive consumption. Therefore, regulation is the key to enjoy whey protein benefits, while staying clear of the harms.