CHENNAI: The easy way out. That’s the mantra that most of us are chanting for even something as vital as our nutritional requirement. And the latest trend on the block to help us achieve our protein fix for the day easily is whey protein. The byproduct of the milk-curdling process, whey is known to be the best natural protein not only because it’s a pure form of protein, but also one of the most easily-absorbed sources. In fact, natural whey protein has the highest biological value (a measure of the proportion of protein absorbed from food) of any protein.
But the biggest misgiving with whey has been associating it associated with weightlifters, bodybuilders and athletes. Anyone with intense fitness goals requires extra protein for faster muscle recovery. With making whey being convenient, the trend is for even those without specific fitness goals to consume whey on a daily basis to get their daily protein quota.
“Being a milk protein, whey is a good source of protein in terms of absorption and bioavailability. In limited human studies, that needs to be further researched, it has been found to be beneficial in allergies, diabetes, high blood pressure, exercise recovery, muscle building and other medical conditions that warrant higher protein intake for recovery,” states Nimmi Ittycheria John, nutritionist and diet consultant.
“An average Indian consumes anywhere between 40 to 50g of protein in a day which is about 0.8 per kg body weight,” says Dr Dharini Krishnan, former national president, Indian Dietetic Association, explaining that this quantity of protein is barely the daily requirement. Whey protein might just do the trick. “Half a scoop can be taken safely each day as it would increase the protein by about 10 to 11 g,” she suggests.
Whey is especially a good option for vegetarians, who find it most difficult to get enough protein. Since this is summer season and kids are out there exercising more, whey will be a good option for them also.”
But like everything else, the ‘too much of anything is not good’ rule applies here as well. “Trainers ask people to finish off an entire box of whey protein within 10 days. I think that is too much,” says Dharini. And Anupama Gopal, a certified fitness trainer, says it will be an overload on the kidney. “Indiscriminate use (of whey) could cause hypoglycemia , low blood pressure, and create digestive problems such as bloat, among other things. Caution should also be exercised to ensure that the formula of the whey protein supplement is not a cocktail of other macabre ingredients,” warns Nimmi.
The best way is to get protein from protein-rich foods. Anupama lists, “Legumes, channa, sprouts, a glass of milk or a cup of curd.” Dharini adds, “Eat an egg.”