Whey Protein is called thus as it is obtained from Whey which is the liquid that is left behind after milk is curdled and strained, it is a by-product of the cheese manufacturing process. It is a compound composed of proteins obtained from whey. It is commonly and widely used as a health supplement as it is an excellent source of protein. It has a high nutritional value and there are many benefits of whey protein. However there are considerable side effects as well. It is important to monitor the amount of protein one is consuming through his or her diet. Additional amount of protein in any form, even as whey protein can cause a lot of side effects. One must remember that the daily requirement of protein is one gram per pound of body weight. Anything taken in excess is harmful.
The commonly seen side effects and dangers because of Whey protein are as follows:
Lactose Intolerance is one of the commonest side effects. Whey protein is derived from milk and contains about 5 % to 6 % of lactose. People suffering from lactose intolerance are unable to digest lactose which is sugar of milk. Lactose is present in Whey protein and hence people suffering from intolerance to lactose are unable to handle whey protein as well. They may develop symptoms like abdominal cramps, abdominal bloating, flatulence, nausea and diarrhoea. The symptoms develop 30 minutes to 2 hours after consumption of dairy products or any product containing lactose. For this reason whey protein is available as an isolate and as a concentrate. Those suffering from lactose intolerance are advised whey protein isolate as it contains less amounts of lactose.
Ketosis is another common side effect of Whey Protein. It is a condition in which there are high levels of ketone bodies in the blood. Ketone bodies are produced by the liver by a process called ketogenesis, this condition occurs when ever the glycogen stores in the liver are depleted. This happens when a person is on a low carbohydrate and high protein diet. In the body, normally, carbohydrates are burnt first and used as a source of energy, next fats are burnt and in severe cases when fats and carbohydrates are unavailable, then proteins are used to provide energy to the body. In cases where a person is on a high protein and low carbohydrate diet, the body uses fat as its primary fuel. Liver damage due to ketosis is seen.
Kidney damage is also one of the dangers, and formation of kidney stones is common.
Osteoporosis may be caused as a result of overuse of Whey protein.
Cystine is an amino acid which is essential for the production of glutathione. Cystine is present in most whey protein supplements as denatured cystine. Denatured cystine is produced when dairy products are put through various chemical or physical processes. For example when milk is pasteurised cystine is converted into the denatured form which makes it unavailable for usage by the body. So also the processing of whey in order to manufacture whey protein makes the protein denatured and unavailable for use by the body.
Another problem is the presence of artificial sweeteners like aspartame, which is a neuro toxin and dangerous for health.
Whey protein has drug interactions with Levodopa, Quinolones, tetracyclines, Fosomax etc. Use of Whey protein with these drugs is not advised as it interferes with the action of these drugs.
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