The beginner’s guide to WHEY PROTEIN

Never thought of a protein powder or a vitamin pill as nutritious? Thought your diet was enough to meet your requirements? Well, think again!

Deficiencies of protein, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids and vital antioxidants are rampant in most diets today – leaving our body open to catabolic attack, faster aging and all age-related diseases.

Supplements are our only saviors to complete our nutritional intake, strengthen our defenses and fight the war against aging and diseases.


The word ‘Protein’ comes from the Greek word ‘Proteus’ meaning “of prime importance”. Whey protein is the KING of all proteins, ranking highest in biological value amongst all food proteins.

Its superior amino acid profile and easy-to-digest nature ensures an abundant supply of all essential amino acids that are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. This arrests all catabolism and shifts our body into a positive state of anabolism and tissue growth.

Hence, whey is our strongest weapon against tissue breakdown and aging, especially for exercising individuals undergoing increased muscle breakdown and seeking an improvement in their body composition and fitness level.

While whey may sound like a foreign substance to many, whey is actually the first nutrient that nourished us in our mother’s milk. Its high protein quality, easily absorbed amino acids and immune-boosting properties strengthen the new-born child to face external foods and antigens.

For those still sceptical, here are your questions on whey answered:

1. Is Whey artificial? Can it cause any side effects?

Absolutely not! Is milk artificial? Does milk cause side effects?

Whey is simply a natural protein extracted from milk. The water that separates out when making paneer from milk, is called ‘whey’. This whey water contains higher amounts of lactose and fat with very low quantity of the whey protein. The whey water needs to be defatted and purified to yield the pure whey protein powder.

Hence, whey protein powder is as natural as milk powder! Mother’s milk is your richest source of whey. That’s as natural as it gets!

2. Can Whey damage my hair or skin?

That’s ridiculous! Hair and skin are tissues made of protein. In fact, whey actually improves your hair and skin!

Whey protein provides essential amino acids required as raw material for growth of hair, skin and all lean tissues. If you are losing hair now, it’s due to a LACK of protein and antioxidants in the diet.

Your hair will grow wonderfully by including required quantity of high-quality protein such as whey and first-class proteins from food such as skimmed milk, curd, paneer, egg whites, fish and chicken.

3. Does Whey pose any risk to my kidney or liver?

Of course not! Whey is simply a milk extract. Why would a wholesome food such as milk damage your kidney or liver?

Metabolizing amino acids and excreting their waste products is the natural work of the liver and the kidney respectively. A healthy kidney or liver can be damaged by abuse of drugs and alcohol, not by intake of a natural nutrient such as protein.

Even if protein is consumed in excess of required quantity, it would upset the digestive system or be stored into adipose tissue as excess calories – similar to the effect of consuming excess carbohydrates or excess fats.

As with other medical conditions, if a kidney or liver problem already exists, exercise and dietary protein intake may have to be restricted under the guidance of a qualified nutritionist.

4. Can Whey affect my testosterone levels or cause impotence?

Scientifically impossible! Whey is a protein, a nutrient from food. Testosterone is a hormone. The two have nothing in common except that they both support muscle growth.

Whey is a simple supplier of amino acids, the raw material for muscle growth. It CANNOT affect hormone levels. Testosterone is the male sex hormone that is synthesized in the body from cholesterol. It simply signals the muscle for faster repair and growth, but it has no control on the supply of protein and amino acids from the diet.

Protein and hormones are independent of each other. No food protein including whey can have any effect on hormones.

5. As a woman, can I also take Whey?

Of course! Doesn’t a woman take milk?

Nutrients like protein from milk or whey are the same for all individuals – men, women, young or old. As discussed before, whey has no relation with sex hormones.

It is the highest-quality protein that is equally beneficial for tissue repair in both men and women. Only the quantity of protein required will vary depending on the person’s lean tissue weight and exercise intensity.

6. Can my child or my grandmother also use Whey?

Yes! Our parents and grandparents actually need whey more than us!

At an older age, catabolism takes over, leading to faster degeneration of all active tissues such as muscles, immune system and digestive system. Whey is a strong anti-aging protein to keep all tissues and systems in an active and youthful state.

Children above 10 years of age, especially those active in sports, are in a higher state of growth and have increased protein requirement. They will also benefit from a good-quality protein such as whey, along with first-class proteins from food, but in quantities as advised by a qualified sports nutritionist.

7. What is the best time to take Whey?

The BEST time to take whey is pre- and post-workout, being easy-to-digest and rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAA).

Even good-quality proteins from food such as eggs, milk and chicken don’t meet our special pre- and post-exercise requirements. Whey is best taken in skim milk pre-workout to supply a sustained release of amino acids, while post-workout whey must always be taken in water to immediately boost anabolism and recovery after the workout.

8. How much Whey do I need?

Requirement of whey is dependent on your individual protein requirement and your dietary intake of protein from food.

A sedentary person requires daily 0.8-1 gm of protein/kg of ideal body weight. An exercising person may require 1.5-2.5 gm of protein/kg of lean body mass, depending on their exercise intensity.

For example, if a person requires 100gm protein daily, if 60gm of protein is met by intake of egg whites, skim paneer, chicken or fish, the remainder 40gm must be met through a whey protein supplement, i.e. by taking 2 scoops per day – one scoop pre-workout and one scoop post-workout.

One scoop of whey may supply 20-30gm of protein, depending on the brand of whey and its level of purity.

Exercising men may take 20-30gm whey (1-1½ scoop) at a time, while exercising women and senior citizens may take 10-20gm whey (½-1 scoop) at a time.

9. If I can’t digest milk, can I still use Whey?

YES, of course! Lactose intolerance and digestive disturbances with milk are very common among Indians, restricting their protein sources even further!

Luckily, whey is available in its purest form as a lactose-free Whey Protein Isolate.

A Whey Protein Isolate, especially with high protein content such as 90% protein, is extremely light to digest for those with sensitive digestive systems and for meeting higher protein requirements.

10. What is the limit to Whey usage? Does it need to be ‘cycled’?

Whey is not a drug to have a “safe limit”! The “limit” to whey is as high or as low as your daily protein requirement!

Daily intake of whey must be balanced with dietary protein intake so that the total protein requirement is met. If whey or any food protein is consumed in excess, it will simply be stored as fat.

Absolutely no cycling required! “Cycling” whey on and off, i.e. giving breaks in the whey intake in the year is ridiculous!

A waste of time and money and a waste of a good nutrient such as whey! Our body repairs muscles and other tissues 24×7 daily. So we need protein in every meal, every day throughout the year. Even if one meal lacks protein, the body shifts into catabolic gear and breaks down muscle and other tissues. Going for days, weeks and months without protein is like deliberately forcing the body to lose muscle and age faster!

11. If I start using Whey, is it that I can’t stop?

Again, whey is just a nutrient, not a drug that you’d get addicted to!

Of course, you can discontinue use as per your personal choice. But remember, you must make up your protein requirement completely with first-class proteins from food alone. Else the main side effect you will have is a loss of your lean tissues and your strength, and a gain in body fat!

12. Will I put on weight using Whey?

No! Unless you consume excess carbohydrates or fats! Protein is actually the lowest calorie nutrient!

Even though it has the same caloric value as carbohydrates, i.e. 4 kcal/gm, it burns off almost 25% of its calories in its own digestion, metabolism and in tissue growth. Protein will help you in fat loss if combined with a low-carbohydrate diet, and will lead to muscle gain if combined with a high-carbohydrate diet!


All consumers have a choice of two types of Whey protein:

1. ‘Regular Whey’:

A mix of whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate, containing 75-80% protein with small amounts of lactose

2. ‘Whey Protein Isolate’:

A highly purified lactose-free whey protein isolate, containing 80-90% protein

Confused which to choose? The Whey Protein Isolate wins hands down!!

Three simple reasons:

1. Highest protein percentage

Whey isolates supplying 85-90% protein can give upto 30gm protein per scoop (as compared to 20-25gm in a ‘Regular whey’), making it easier to meet higher protein requirements of intensely training men and women.

2. ‘Super-light’ digestibility

Being zero-lactose, a high-quality whey isolate can be ‘super-light’ on the digestive system! It is the answer to the prayers of thousands of exercising individuals with lactose-intolerance or digestive disturbances, for whom consuming protein and increasing lean muscle may have seemed like a distant dream!

Whey isolates are also the best choice to initiate first-time users, especially women and senior citizens, who are apprehensive about the protein ‘suiting’ their body.

3. Not ‘Expensive!’

The ‘Expensive!’ label given to Whey isolates is a gross misinterpretation! The added cost is naturally for the higher protein content in grams per pack as compared to a Regular whey, and the higher level of purification.

Hence, instead of comparing the total cost of a Regular whey vs a Whey isolate, a consumer must compare the rate per pound (lbs) or per gram of protein.

For example:

A) Regular whey containing 80% protein:

5lbs jar contains 80% x 5lbs = 4lbs protein

Rate per lbs of protein = Cost of 5lbs jar

4lbs protein

B) Whey isolate containing 90% protein:

5lbs jar contains 90% x 5lbs = 4.5lbs protein

Rate per lbs of protein = Cost of 5lbs jar

4.5lbs protein

A good quality brand of whey isolate such as ISOSENSATION 93 from Ultimate Nutrition can actually turn out to be costing slightly more per gram of protein, than a regular whey! Not a high cost for the easy ride!


Wanting to try a whey protein isolate? Do your homework first!

1. Research the market for the reputed international whey products

Look for the reputed international brands manufacturing whey isolates. Do not base your judgement on mere jazzy advertisements or on ‘top-selling’ ratings by online stores. The high purification of whey to make a good-quality whey isolate requires advanced technology that can be trusted only to reputed international brands.

2. Check the ‘Ingredient’ list whether it’s a pure whey isolate

Re-confirm by reading the ‘ingredient’ list whether the product is a pure whey isolate. For marketing purposes, few brands of Regular Whey highlight the product as ‘whey protein isolates’ when actually it is a mix of whey concentrate and whey isolate.

Hence, do not choose a product by merely reading the front advertising panel of the label or on the basis of other advertising claims.

3. Check if the purification method is filtration

The purification method of choice for a high-quality whey isolate is a filtration technique such as Cross-flow microfiltration that preserves all the whey sub-fractions and its superior amino acid profile.

4. Calculate the protein percentage

The basic purpose of a good protein supplement is to supply a high protein percentage. This is calculated simply as: Protein % = Protein (gm) per serving x 100

Serving size (gm)

Choose a reputed brand of whey isolate with higher protein percentage.

5. Look for add-ons

Be demanding as a consumer! Don’t be satisfied merely with a high protein percentage! Check the ‘Ingredient’ list for special add-ons to the protein to support better muscle growth and faster recovery.

Add-ons could include amino acids such as glutamine and BCAA (branched-chain amino acids) for muscle recovery, colostrums as added growth factors, insulin optimizers for better uptake of protein, and digestive enzymes.

6. Check the cost factor

After the whey isolate has passed all the above criteria, calculate its cost per pound (lbs) or per gram of protein as described. Finally, select the product with highest quality yet easy on the pocket!

Remember, fitness and whey protein go hand-in-hand! Bonded for life!

So make a choice that will keep your body and your budget happy!


If you’re exercising to increase size or put on lean muscle, then just Whey is not enough for you! An effective Muscle gain program requires not only regular intake of protein (every 3 hours) but also simultaneous intake of higher quantity of complex carbohydrates.

In an ideal world with ample time, relaxed lives and excellent digestive capacities, this would mean eating a sizeable quantity of whole cereals such as chapatti, oats and brown rice along with protein every 3 hours, i.e. 5-6 times a day! But we live in a world where time races faster than our day, stress kill our appetites and our digestive systems struggle to filter out the toxins and scavenge the nutrients!

Simple solution: Add a Weight Gainer supplement to your nutrition program to cope with your high-protein plus high-caloric requirement!

For those looking for a lean muscular body, don’t let the word ‘Weight gainer’ fool you.

Even though most weight gainers supply about 55-65gm of protein per serving, they vary widely in the ratio of protein-to-carbohydrates. A high protein-carb ratio promotes increase in muscle size but along with risk of fat gain, while a moderate protein-carb ratio supports growth of lean muscle with little fat.

Thus, there are two types of weight gainers depending on your body type, i.e. tendency to gain fat, and your individual fitness goal:

1. Lean Muscle Gainers (moderate-carb) – Protein-carb ratio of 1:1½

2. High-carb Weight Gainers – Protein-carb ratio of 1:3


Don’t just pick up any weight gainer off the shelf based on what ‘sells’ more or what your friend is using! All weight gainers are not the same. What is best for your friend may not be best for you!

1. Understand your Body type and your Fitness goal

  • A lean muscle gainer is the perfect choice for an endomorph or mesomorph with moderate to high tendency of gaining fat.
  • Lean muscle gain may require more time and patience but will be accompanied by minimal fat gain.
  • A high-carb weight gainer is a good choice for an ectomorph with very low body fat, especially for the first phase of his/her weight gain program. This will help gain weight and increase muscle size faster but with a risk of fat gain, depending on the calories in the rest of the diet.

After achieving substantial weight gain, it is advisable even for an ectomorph to switch to a lean muscle gainer to ensure quality muscle gain rather than fat gain.

2. Select the ideal Protein-Carb ratio

  • In a lean muscle gainer, look for a 1:1½ protein-carb ratio, i.e. 55-65gm of protein with 80-90gm of carbohydrates per serving. This ensures a higher proportion of protein along with good-quality complex carbohydrates per serving.
  • A lean muscle gainer is typically consumed as ½ serving in water/milk 2-3 times a day.
  • In a high-carb weight gainer, the ideal protein-carb ratio is 1:3, i.e. 55-65gm of protein with 150-160gm of carbohydrates per serving.
  • A high-carb weight gainer needs to be consumed in higher amounts such as ½ serving in water/milk 3-4 times a day.
  • A higher protein-carb ratio such as 1:4 or 1:5 may be counter-productive as this reduces the proportion of protein consumed (depending on the amount of powder) and also increases the chances of fat gain, rather than muscle gain. Only extreme ectomorphs with badly deficient diets may burn off the high calories in a 1:4 or 1:5 weight gainer.

3. Look for a blend of Protein sources

A blend of whey and casein proteins is preferred in a weight gainer. The mix of fast-absorbed whey and slow-releasing casein ensures a timed-release continuous supply of amino acids from one meal to the next.

4. Look for special Add-ons

An advanced lean muscle gainer may have special add-ons to support muscle growth, improved power and recovery. These include creatine, amino acids like glutamine, BCAA and arginine, and good quality fats such as omega-3 fats and MCTs (medium chain triglycerides).

Be sure to check the quantity in which each is present. Higher quantities of add-ons are expected to translate into better results, while smaller quantities may serve only for advertising purposes.

5. Analyze the Costing

Costing of weight gainers is most misunderstood and has led many-a-consumer to make wrong choices. Make sure your analysis is on the right track:

a) Check the number of servings per pack.

That equals the number of days the pack will last if you consume one serving per day. Check whether the big-sized weight gainer pack e.g. a 10lbs or a 12lbs is a 15-day supply or a 1-month supply.

b) Compare the cost per serving NOT the total cost per pack.

Cost per serving = Total cost of the pack

Number of servings

You may be surprised that an advanced lean muscle gainer such as Ultimate Nutrition’s ISOMASS XTREME GAINER with high-quality protein and carbohydrates packed with massive add-ons can actually turn out to be cheaper (per serving) than other high-carb weight gainers!

By Gauri Murthy
Printed in ‘Body Sculpture’ supplement, Health & Nutrition, India  (May 09)

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  1. October 23, 2010, 9:18 PM   /  Reply

    Yes of course. Watch out for more articles on whey, protein, anti-aging and sports nutrition!

  2. November 13, 2010, 8:22 PM   /  Reply

    thank u

  3. November 13, 2010, 8:24 PM   /  Reply


  4. January 18, 2011, 5:31 PM   /  Reply

    Sure. What information do you need? Let me know your specific queries.

  5. gopika
    August 5, 2011, 11:20 AM   /  Reply

    can you tell me on the days that i dont exercise what is the best time to take whey?
    also what about cassein protein?

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