You’ve probably heard about the amazing benefits of whey protein powder but if you’re new to the keto diet you might be wondering if you should take it. As you no doubt know protein plays an important part in the keto diet.
Proteins can give your body a boost of energy, which is what you need when you are trying to transition into ketosis. But aside from this, adding whey protein into your diet comes with several other health benefits. So let’s find out more about whey protein powder and understand how it can help with the keto diet.
What is Whey Protein Powder?
Whey is a byproduct of the process of making cheese. It’s the leftover liquid after the milk is curdled and strained. The liquid is then made into powder, and this is how the whey protein powder is formed.
It’s a popular ingredient in bodybuilding supplements. That’s because one of the benefits of whey protein powder is in helping muscles to recover very quickly after rigorous training. When consumed, whey is quickly digested and absorbed by the digestive system and gets into the bloodstream allowing your muscles to recover fast.
But aside from helping to build muscles, the whey protein powder can also help with weight loss. According to Brigitte Zeitlin, a registered dietitian specializing in health & wellness,
“Protein plays a big role in weight loss because it keeps us full and satisfied so that we make it to our next meal without snacking in between.”
Types of Whey Protein Powder
When looking to buy whey protein powder you will find it in three different forms.
Whey Protein Isolate: This form is the one to chose if you are following a keto diet because it has fewer carbs than other forms. The whey has had the fat and all but trace amounts of lactose removed so is highest in protein.
Whey Protein Concentrate: This can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer as to how much protein, carbohydrate and fat it contains. It is higher in carbohydrates and lactose than whey protein isolate.
Whey Protein Hydrolysate: In this form the amino acid bonds have been broken down (hydrolyzed) so it is absorbed more easily than the isolate. This is a good choice if you are lactose intolerant.
Grass-fed Whey Protein Powder
For the best health benefits make sure you get whey powder that is made from the milk of grass-fed cows. It contains more beneficial nutrients than other whey products.
Grass-fed whey is higher in the fatty acid Conjugate Linoleic Acid (CLA) which is said to help with burning fat and metabolism.
Whey products made from milk of grass-fed cows will not contain any added artificial or unnecessary additives. This one by Orgain is grass-fed, low in carbs and non GMO.
What are the Benefits of Whey Protein Powder for the Keto Diet?
Whey protein supplements have been around for a long time now and are only popular among bodybuilders and athletes. But the benefits of whey protein powder are not only limited to improving physical performance and building muscle mass.
If you’re following a low carb diet like keto, adding whey protein powder supplements to your diet can benefit you in many ways. Here are some of them.
1. Helps With Weight Loss
One of the main goals of people following the keto diet is to lose weight. This high-fat, low carb eating plan can stimulate weight loss by putting your body in a state of ketosis. It also provides several health benefits, such as lowering blood sugar levels and maintaining a healthy level of blood pressure.
Although fats are the main component of the keto macros, protein also plays an important role. In fact, eating an adequate amount of protein in keto is important to maintain lean mass, which is important for weight loss.
Related reading: How to Calculate Macros for Weight Loss
A study done in 2016 assessed the changes in body composition among 25 healthy individuals. They were divided into two groups and were asked to take whey protein. One group follows a low-calorie diet while the other group was asked to go on keto.
At the end of the study, it was found that the group who were on keto shows better results in their body composition compared to those in the low-calorie group. Both groups did lose weight, but those on keto have maintained their lean muscle mass.
2. Helps Maintain a Healthy Level of Blood Sugar
One of the health benefits of the keto diet is that it helps to maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Having a healthy sugar level is very important for those with diabetes. You can further benefit from keto’s ability to improve blood glucose levels if you add whey protein powder into your diet.
Related reading: How Does a Keto Diet Balance Blood Sugar?
In one study, researchers gave a group of obese participants with casein, whey, or glucose for twelve weeks. At the end of the study, it was found that the group taking whey supplements has better insulin function.
Another study was done on people with type 2 diabetes and was asked to supplement with whey protein while eating high-carb breakfast. Results showed that those who took whey improved insulin sensitivity and a much lower level of blood sugar compared to the placebo group.
These studies are proof that whey protein is indeed beneficial to those who have diabetes.
3. Helps Boost Immunity
Another of the potential benefits of whey protein powder is in helping to boost immunity. Aside from its essential amino acids, whey has tons of immune-boosting compounds. These include alpha-lactalbumin, lactoferrin, beta-lactoglobulin, and immunoglobulins.
All these compounds are believed to have anti-cancer and anti-microbial properties. They help your immune system in fighting infections and harmful antigens. So, taking whey protein powder may help you to stay healthy by boosting your immunity.
4. Helps Improve Body Composition
Whey is popular among bodybuilders due to its ability to maintain lean muscle mass. Taking whey protein powder regularly can help build muscles without making it appear too bulky.
In a study published in Nutrition Reviews, it was found that supplementation of whey protein can help improve body composition by increasing lean mass without causing any changes in fat mass.
In addition, the improvement of body composition from the use of whey protein is even more effective when combined with a weight loss diet like keto.
Whey may not be able to stimulate weight loss directly, but it can certainly help boost satiety while also maintaining your muscle mass even when you’re shedding fat.
5. Supports Heart Health
Several factors could influence one’s risk of heart diseases. These include insulin resistance, weight, inflammation, and others. One of the benefits of whey protein powder is in helping to minimize your risk of developing heart diseases.
A massive study done in 2013 has found that supplementing whey protein improved the arterial health, blood pressure level, and blood lipids of people who have metabolic syndrome.
In one trial, a group of mildly hypertensive individuals was asked to take casein, whey, or glucose supplements. Compared to those who take casein and glucose, the group who supplemented with whey protein not only improved their blood sugar level but has also shown a decrease in triglycerides, which is another risk factor for heart disease.
As you can see, the health benefits of whey protein powder are truly impressive. Whether you are following the keto diet for weight loss or to simply improve your overall health, whey protein is certainly a great addition to your diet.
What’s more adding whey protein into your diet is so easy. You can make it into smoothies, pancakes, and several other low-carb treats.