Whey protein has long been touted as the must have supplement for bodybuilders! For years beginners and advanced trainers alike have been told that unless you have a whey protein shake post workout you will not grow at all – thanks to some bad understanding of the ‘anabolic window’ and some clever advertising by the dairy industry. It’s 100% untrue that you need whey in the anabolic window, however using whey can be highly beneficial. In this article I’m going to discuss the goods of whey, the bads of whey (including why your shakes may ruin your gut microbiome), and how to use whey for maximal progress.
Whey is a fantastic protein source. It is higher in the anabolic BCAAs (especially in leucine) than other protein sources, (the amino acid which stimulates muscle protein synthesis) and is easily digested if it is lactose free.
Due to its high BCAA leucine content, whey is a really good protein to have post workout. In the post workout window you want protein which is low in fat and high in BCAAs and leucine. Per 30g of whey protein you are likely to get 3g of leucine and 8g of BCAAs. This is perfect for placing your body in an anabolic state via activation of mTOR and insulin while also inhibiting the catabolic AMPK. In fact a study showed that
In addition to being the best protein to use post workout, whey is also highly suitable for other times during the day. Whey is quite easily digested, particularly when it is lactose free, which makes it perfect for a pre workout protein source. Before you train, it is advantageous to have a protein source. This will stimulate muscle protein synthesis while minimising muscle protein breakdown, leading you to more muscle growth!! (Note: muscle protein synthesis – muscle protein breakdown = muscle gain). The problem with getting protein in at this time is that often you it will not have digested properly before you train. By having whey, it is usually digested and cleared from your gastrointestinal tract within an hour, leaving you with an empty stomach, activated sympathetic nervous system, and optimised state to train!
The bad side of whey doesn’t actually come from the whey itself. It comes from the artificial sweeteners companies mix in the powder. As you guys would know by now, I consider artificial sweeteners the single most damaging product to our gut microbiome. Sucralose and Acesulfame K are two of the worst for this and these two are the most prevalent in whey!