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Does Whey Protein Work?

Updated on August 19, 2012
Does whey protein work? Optimum Nutrition - one of the best proteins in the market
Does whey protein work? Optimum Nutrition - one of the best proteins in the market

So, everyone who at least tried bodybuilding heard that protein = muscle growth.

More protein means more muscle. Does that mean that you should start buying all the possible whey supplements (just to be clear, in this article whey and protein are used interchangeability, since whey is the most popular type of protein supplement)? Does whey protein work after all?

I'll try to answer these questions as briefly as I can.

Protein digestion
Protein digestion

Protein structure and digestion

So, in order to figure out if protein supplements work, we have to understand what protein consists of and how it is absorbed into the body.

Simply put, protein molecule is made of amino acids, linked together into a long chain. These amino acids are the building blocks of muscle. When a protein molecule travels to the stomach, these amino acid chains are broken into single acids and absorbed into the muscles.

So, that means that the more amino acids I consume, the more muscle I can build, right?


Protein needs

If you're a natural body builder, i.e. not on steroids, there is a certain amount of protein that your body can absorb. And that is great, isn't it? Because if you could absorb as much protein as you like, then your body would probably explode from protein surplus... Ha ha :)

So, what's the magical number you ask?

Well, this number isn't precise, as our bodies are different, but the absolute maximum you should go for is 1g of protein per pound of body weight. That means if you're 170 pound, you should try to consume 170g of protein per day. That's the absolute maximum, if you decide go with 0.7-0.8g that's totally fine as well. Of course, if you're not a bodybuilder at all and stumbled across this article, then your daily protein intake should be even less 0.1-0.2g.

Does whey protein work?

So, that being said, can whey protein supplements help you build any more muscle?

Well, I think the answer is already obvious, isn't it?

After you calculate your daily protein needs and how much protein you get from the food that you eat, you will know if you still need any protein supplements or not. If, say, your daily protein need is 170g and you consume 150g from the food, then yes, whey supplement will help you. However, if you're already above the daily need then supplements won't be much of a help. In fact, the opposite.

Protein supplement side effects?

If you consume more protein than your body can absorb, the excess protein will be stored as fat. Any carbohydrates or protein that your body cannot absorb is stored as fat in case your body needs extra energy.

That's not really a side effect, rather a consequence of an unbalanced diet. Protein supplements do not have any side effects because if they had, then almost all the food that we eat would also have side effects. As I like to say, if you abuse any food, it can be bad for you.

So, in terms of side effects, no, protein supplements don't have those as long as you don't go over your daily needs.


So, after all this talk (which I hopefully didn't make sound too complicated :), the main thing you should remember is that before buying any protein supplements, you should first figure out how your needs and whether you're in surplus or in shortage of protein.

Does whey protein work?

It works just as any other food, like eggs, milk, etc. Just remember to use it in moderation and in accordance to your body requirements.

Hope this helped and good luck.


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