It seems to be everywhere nowadays. Whey protein. Not more than 20 years ago only competitive bodybuilders at the top of their careers knew what whey protein was and consumed it to enhance performance and support muscle growth. Today everyone from the age of 16 who does some kind of sport on a regular basis seems to take it. Today we are answering the question what whey is, its downsides and we offer you some plantbased alternatives we love far more!
What is whey
Wait. Just a second ago we implemented that whey is fairly new, didn’t we? Well, that is not strictly the case. It is new as the sports supplement we know today, however it has been around for over 8000 years. During that time it was not more than a byproduct of cheesemaking. A sort of highly concentrated milky substance. Up to 100 years ago this liquid whey was used as a luxury product to add to butter and broth or as medicine. In the 1930’s food manufacturers discovered how to dry it and make powder from it. When bodybuilding started to become more of an official sport and researchers discovered the importance of protein for muscle growth and recovery, that is when whey really gained in popularity and maintained that status until today.
To whey or not to whey?
Whey is a great source of protein that the body can absorb easily. It contains all important amino acids that are needed for muscle growth. It is also relatively cheap, accessible almost everywhere and it has a good image: If you train, you need to take whey. Yes, the marketing for whey is absolutely on point. But does whey have downsides too? It does! And it is the stuff you do not hear about too often although researchers and many former whey-users know about it.
We know this much: because whey is so highly concentrated it can effect your body any way other concentrated products can. Very common with whey consumption are symptoms of an irritable bowel (IBS) as well as bad skin, not only in your face but on your shoulders and upper back as well. It also tends to bind more water in your body which can make you look “puffy”. Research further suggests it could potentially effect your insides too. At the moment more research is done to test if the main ingredient of whey (caseine) can be linked to cancer growth, and it does not look good. Last but not least whey is of course a dairy product which makes it impactful for the animals and the environment.
If only there was another way to grow and maintain your muscles while still be beautiful, healthy and care about the environment… Well, there is!
Meet plantbased protein
Plantbased protein powder has everything what whey has except for one thing: the good image. Plantbased protein is commonly perceived as not tasty, expensive or not as high quality as whey protein. Yes, to find the right plantbased protein you need to do a little more research and trial and error on yourself, but then it can be as good or maybe even better than whey. Here are some of our favorite plantbased proteins!
Probably the most common plantbased protein powder and the one we serve in our bar. It is easy accessible, relatively cheap, tasty and available in all sorts of cool flavors like mango, peach, chocolate, banana, hazelnut and so on. Some can not tolerate soy so if you know you are allergic to it, another protein powder would be better. You also have to make sure the soy used is organic so pesticide residue from regular soy does not strain your body unnecessary. The one in our bar is organic of course!
This plantbased protein contains natural omega fatty acids that can be a great addition to a diet that is mainly centered around plants. Research found that this protein is absorbed the best by your body. It is already accessible in most health stores but often in it natural flavor, which is, let’s say “quite earthy”. If taste is not a problem for you, totally go with this one. You can also blend it with some type of fruit to mask some of its flavor.
Very easily digestible with a great soluble consistency. Pea protein was found to be as effective in terms of muscle support as whey. It contains extra iron which is great if you eat a highly plantbased diet. Unfortunately pea protein is not very common yet so the cool flavors are limited. It can be ordered online but that makes it more expensive. If you like this protein powder we would suggest you team up with your friends, order in bulk and split the shipping costs.
Ahh what a time to be alive! Nowadays you do not even have to choose. You can have the best of all worlds. Protein blends are on the rise and they contain a mixture of different protein powders. These together give you all important amino acids, are easily absorbed and come with some of their additional vitamins and minerals. The most common flavor is vanilla which is a great basic flavor that can be combined with almost everything to taste like almost anything. Want a chocolate shake? Add a tablespoon of cacao powder. Fancy a virgin piña colada? Blend it with some pineapple. Prefer a strawberry milkshake? We bet you will know what to add to this one ;-)
Plantbased protein is cool, healthier for you and nice to the animals and the environment. Did it spark your interest? Give it a try in our bar! We serve a delicious, natural plantbased protein shake with soy protein and oatmilk. See you soon!
Written by, Maritza Kolenbrander, Food Psychologist at Plantifulplan