1. Health & Lifestyle

Whey Protein Shakes: Does Your Body Need It? Fact Check

Shipra Singh
Shipra Singh
Protein shake
Protein shake

Whey protein – the buzzword of gyms. Bodybuilders talk a lot about it. It’s a common sight to see people in the gym gulp down a glass of protein shakes after working out.

With no offence to the hard-working bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts, it is not wrong to say that taking protein shakes and powders has become more of a fashion than a necessity.

Many people don’t know what actually they are taking. They are unaware of how whey protein works and how the body utilizes it. They know only one thing – “everybody is taking it in the gym to build a great body, so I must also take it.”

So, they buy an expensive pack of protein powder from over the counter and start consuming it.

But do we Indians really need whey protein powders and shakes?

Or are we making our bodies work extra hard to digest this protein? Excess protein can actually burden your kidneys.

How much protein does our body need?

According to nutritionists, our body needs just 0.8 to 1.0 g of protein for each kg of body weight.

For example, if your body weight is 65 kg, you need 60-65 g of protein daily. This constitutes approximately 10% of the daily calorie consumption.

Extra protein is needed only by pregnant and breastfeeding women, children (because their bodies are still growing and developing), and athletes, sportspeople, and serious bodybuilders who take part in competitions.

For sportspeople and bodybuilders, too, the level of extra protein requirement depends on individual body needs, health status, protein intake from their daily natural diet, and other such factors.

On average, bodybuilders and sports people involved in rigorous training require 1.5 to 2.0 g of protein for every kg of their weight.

Yogurt producing machine

This means…

  • You mustn’t take protein powders simply because your friend is taking it. Nor should you start a protein supplement just like that.

  • Please consult a nutritionist before you begin to supplement your diet with whey protein.

Indian diet can give you good amount of protein daily

This is what doctors have to say. People usually fail to realize that our Indian diet is highly nutritious and balanced.

A typical Indian meal consists of Rotis (carbs), Dal (protein), veggies (vitamins and minerals), curd (probiotics, calcium, etc), and salads (whole lot of antioxidants, etc). If you spread ghee on rotis or put ghee in dal or eat paranthas some days, you get good amount of fat.

What else does the body need?

Imbalance in diet generally happens when we eat more of processed foods or fast food or skip a decent meal. Also, failing to add variety to food can lead to deficiencies in the long run.

But we Indians love to experiment with food!

Do you know what the biggest benefit lies in the Indian kitchen?

Spices! And we have a whole lot of them in our kitchens!

Ginger (“adrak”), garlic (“lehsun”), cinnamon (“dalchini”), turmeric (“haldi”), cumin (“jeera”), asafetida (“hing”), cloves (“long”), black pepper (“kaalimirch”), bay leaves (“tejpatta”), black and green cardamoms (“elaichi”), coriander (“dhaniya”), carom seeds (“ajwain”), fenugreek seeds (“methi dana”), mustard seeds (“sarsonkebeej”), rye seeds, dried red chillies, curry leaves, and lots more…

These spices keep our immunity healthy, provide anti aging effects, and takes care of the body’s vital organs and their functioning, plus helping in brain health.

In spite of such richness in our Indian diet, we believe that we still need supplements.

Most of us eat dals daily. Apart from this, eggs and paneer are an important part of our cuisines. Then, there are non-vegetarians who relish various lip-smacking dishes of chicken, fish, and other meats. Think all these and think protein.

Even a vegetarian who consumes a bowl of dal daily and has a cup of milk can easily get the required amount of protein.

Let’s take a look at how much protein we get from common daily items:

Food Item

Protein Content

A 250 ml glass of milk

8.0 g

A bowl of cooked dal (almost all of them)

14.0 to 16.0 g

A cup of white rice

4.3 g

1 medium-sized wheat roti

3.0 g

1 cup curd

3.9 g

51 g of chicken leg

13.4 g

180 g of chicken breast

3.6 g

20 g of chicken wings

6.0 g

1 egg

7.0 g

1 egg white

5.0 g

100 g paneer

14.0 g

113 g of salmon fish

18.2 g

28 g cheese (different types)

6.0 to 10.0 g

1 cup soy milk

7.0 g

Handful of peanuts (about 28 g)

7.0 g

2 Tablespoons peanut butter

7.02 g

½ cup cooked soybeans

14.0 g

½ cup tofu

10.0 g

½ cup cooked green peas

4.1 g

Handful of almonds

6.0 g

Handful of cashew nuts

7.0 g

¼ cup each of sunflower, flax, pumpkin seeds

7.0 to 10.0 g

Indian diet

So, are we really deficit in protein? Do we need to gulp down those branded protein shakes?

Before you begin to copy others and believe that your body, too, needs extra protein, please assess your overall health and eating habits. Consult a dietician who will guide you the best.

Remember

  • A high protein diet can put your kidney function at risk. Kidneys process protein. If you eat more protein than required, it can burden your kidneys.

  • If you are suffering from a kidney disorder, you must not take whey protein and any other kind of protein supplement.

  • If you are lactose intolerant, whey protein can harm you because this protein is derived from milk.

 What is whey protein made of?

Whey protein is a blend of proteins extracted from whey – the liquid component of milk that gets separated when cheese is produced.

Milk is made of two kinds of protein:

  • Casein, which forms 80% of the protein of milk

  • Whey, which forms the remaining 20%

Things to consider before you take protein shakes

  • First you must know whether your body really needs this extra protein. Consult a nutritionist.

  • Scrutinize the ingredients on the label of your protein powder container. Check whether there are no banned ingredients in the formula.

  • Know whether you must take it with milk or water. If you take with milk, you add to the total protein amount.

  • Know when to take it – pre workout or post workout and how much time before or after workout. This is important for better absorption by the body.

  • Fix the amount based on your nutritionist’s advice, not on your own.

(Disclaimer: This article is for general information only. It does not give medical advice of any kind.)

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