Nutrition

Whey Protein for Women – What is it and do You Need it?

What is whey protein for women and do you need it? We answer all the questions about this dietary supplement to find out if you really need it.

If you’re regularly hitting the gym and trying to change your physique, you need one essential nutrient in your diet – protein.

Or, to be more accurate, macronutrient.

If you think about developing muscle and strength as building a wall, the amino acids that make up protein are the bricks that make it happen.

Without enough protein in your diet, you’ll struggle to make the gains you dream in, even if you’re putting in all the work in the gym.

Now, getting in enough of these handy amino acids isn’t always an easy task – that’s where whey protein comes in.

Let’s delve into how whey protein can help you boost your muscle gains, improve your physique and even help you drop weight.

What is whey protein?  

As we mentioned above, whey protein is an essential nutrient needed to build and repair muscle.

Whenever you go to the gym and lift weights, you’re breaking down your muscle fibres. It’s protein that comes to the rescue, and builds the fibres back again, but this time larger and stronger.

This macronutrient, along with carbohydrates and fats, provides your body with key energies that help your body to function.

There are actually 20 different types of protein your body needs to function, and nine of these are essential. That means that your body only makes eleven proteins itself – the other nine you need to get from your diet.

Foods that contain all nine of these essential amino acids are called ‘complete’ proteins. Here’s a few examples of complete proteins:

  •         Meat
  •         Dairy
  •         Soy
  •         Fish
  •         Eggs
  •         Tofu

In this list, whey protein comes under dairy. Milk has two forms of protein – casein and why. Whey is a by-product of the cheese-making process, so when it’s separated out, it can then be dehydrated into a powder form, whilst still maintaining all nine essential amino acids.

Where can I find whey protein?

whey protein for women protein bar

Supplement companies all over the world take this by-product powder, flavor it and sell it as a shake that will add around 20g of protein to your everyday diet.

It doesn’t taste very good on its own, so you’ll find just about every company flavors their powders, offering a huge range of options to choose from.

You can have them with water or your choice of milk, or even add them to a smoothie of your creation.

Whey protein is extremely versatile and is often added to protein bars and meal replacement shakes to boost the amino acid profile.

If you are looking into meal replacement shakes or protein bars, be sure to check out the full ingredients list, as many companies add refined sugars to their mixture to improve the flavor. While this might be tastier, it isn’t the healthiest option. If you’re looking to lose weight in particular, we recommend you find a low sugar, low carb option instead.

[Related Article: 22 High Protein Low Carb Snacks

What types of whey protein are out there?

As it comes from the cheese-making process, whey is more of a food than you think. It’s in milk and yoghurts and you’ve probably quite a few things you eat on a daily basis. 

However, there are different ways of refining the by-product to produce whey in different forms. These offer different protein levels.

As you explore the market and supplement websites you’ll probably come across these types of whey protein:

  •         Concentrate – Despite the name, this offers the lowest concentration of protein.It’s at around 70% protein, and contains a higher lactose amount. This is worth considering if you’re sensitive to the bloating effects of lactose.
  •         Isolate –This offers a much higher protein content, think around 90%. It’s also got much lower lactose, carb and fat content, making it a lower calorie option. It’s more expensive than concentrate.
  •         Hydrolyzed – This option is fast acting and can be absorbed and utilised quickly, as it’s made up of tiny fragments of protein. This is the most expensive option you’ll find.

Is whey protein for women healthy?

is whey protein for women healthy

Fitness fanatics, athletes and health-focussed gym-goers across the world use whey protein to build muscle and support their weight loss goals.

It’s one of the most popular protein supplements in the world.

Supplementing with it can help you build muscle, improve your fitness and even support a lean physique over unhealthy body fat.

As such a popular dietary supplement, it has come under scrutiny many times, and countless studies have declared it safe [1].

The majority of people use it and don’t suffer any issues whatsoever.

Some who’re sensitive to the effects of lactose may struggle with bloating and nausea if they buy concentrate.

If you suffer with lactose allergies or intolerances, then avoid

taking whey protein completely as it can lead to sickness or reactions.

But overall, it’s considered a safe and healthy way of adding more protein to your diet. Whether you’re a bodybuilder or a weekend warrior – it’s appropriate for everyone.

How much protein do I need?

If you want to build muscle and lose weight, you need enough protein to make it happen.

Needless to say, if you don’t have enough bricks to build your wall, you can only make it so high. The same is true of protein and developing muscle.

You need to make sure you have enough of these building blocks in your system to maximize the benefits from your workouts.

The amount of protein you need is determined by a few very important factors of your physiology. The International Society of Sports Nutrition have determined that, to build muscle you should equate to 1.4-2.0g of protein per kilo of body weight [2].

If you’re active and regularly hit the weights room, then aim for the upper end of that amount. If you’re less active go for the lower protein intake.

You should aim to spread it out across the day by taking servings of 20-40g every 3-4 hours.  

The same journal also said that taking protein supplements, like whey protein, is an effective way of achieving your macronutrient goals, whilst keeping calorie intake down.

It also said that a high protein diet is effective in promoting lean, aka fat free, mass. This means achieving your ideal amino acid intake could be key to dropping excess fat.

[Related Article: How to Calculate BMR and TDEE

Do I need whey protein?

protein sources

The fact of the matter is, whey protein isn’t the key to achieving the physique you’re after. But it can make it easier. 

You can get all your nutritional needs from whole foods like the ones listed above. However, that’s often not always the most cost effective, or convenient way to ensure you’re fulfilling your protein needs.

That’s where whey protein and other protein products come into their own.

A whey protein shake is the ideal way to boost your amino acid intake, without splashing all your cash and without spending hours cooking something up.

Simply add water and a scoop of your favorite product to a shaker and you’re good to go, with a healthy addition of protein to your diet.

When to take whey protein

There’s a whole lot of speculation about when to take protein to get the maximum benefit out of it.

You may have heard talk about the ‘anabolic window’ – the short time period of around an hour after you’ve finished working out when you apparently need to take protein in order to maximize recovery.

Well it’s been discovered that this window of maximum anabolic potential doesn’t actually exist.

Instead your body is constantly metabolizing protein. And also, constantly degrading muscle. If these two states are equal, you are in muscle maintenance mode. If you’re in a strong metabolizing phase, you’ll build muscle, and if it’s in the degradation zone, you lose muscle.

When you don’t feed your body with enough protein, the degradation process wins and you start to lose muscle.

To tip the scales in your favor, and to grow more muscle, you need to regularly top your body up with generous servings of those essential proteins.

In fact, around 20g of protein every 2-4 hours has been shown to have the most effect on boosting muscle protein synthesis [3].

As we mentioned above, whey protein is such a popular dietary supplement because it’s just so handy.  

And if you need to top your body up as regularly as this, a cheap, convenient whey protein shake is the perfect option.

Whey protein and weight loss

can whey protein for women help lose weight

We briefly mentioned above that protein is linked to weight loss.

Sure enough, the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that a high protein diet promotes lean mass, and can influence lower levels of body fat.

Protein can help you lose weight through the following methods:

  •         Boosting metabolism – Protein promotes muscle, which burns more calories than fat does. As a result your metabolism will be raised and you’ll burn more fat than you normally would.
  •         Increasing satiety – This is the feeling of fullness you get after eating. Protein makes you feel fuller for longer, so you’re less likely to snack between meals and you can keep your calorie intake down.

Another study found that men and women who took a high-protein snack between meals had a lower calorie intake in their next meal [4]. This can lead to a calorie deficit and therefore increased weight loss.

[Related Article: Weight Loss Workouts for Women

Whey protein for women

If you’re looking for whey protein for women, there’s a few things you need to know from the word go.

First up, women don’t need a specific type of whey protein. It can be used by men or women, there is nothing about it that means it can’t be used by anyone – unless you’re lactose intolerant or vegan of course.

Beware, that many supplement companies will add some so-called ‘fat burning’ ingredients into a product they call whey protein for women. The effects these elements will have on weight loss are often negligible and cost more money for no results. Be sure to check the supplements label before you click buy, as they can often contain high levels of stimulants.

Our recommendation is to look for a simple whey protein isolate product that has a high amino acid offering, and tastes good. You don’t need anything else. Anything that’s marketed towards women is often only different because they change the packaging and up the price.

All you need is a quality product with a high protein content.

The final word

If you’re looking to build muscle and lose weight, then adding a whey protein shake into your diet is the cheap and convenient way to add to up your intake.

However, don’t be caught out by female-focused marketing, simply look out for a supplement that offers high protein content and low carbohydrates, anything else may be a drain on your cash.

Lauren

Lauren is a health and fitness enthusiast, powerlifter and writer who's written for a number of well-known fitness publishing companies.

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