10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Whey Protein

Medically Reviewed on 7/19/2022

What are the side effects associated with whey protein?

10 health benefits of whey protein
Whey protein can help relieve symptoms of several chronic conditions by reducing inflammation.

Taking the recommended dosage of whey protein does not cause any side effects. However, a higher dose of whey proteins is associated with the following side effects:

What is the recommended dosage for whey protein and how to use it?

Whey protein is usually available in powder form that can be mixed with smoothies, yogurt, water, or milk. The recommended dosages for various indications are:

  1. For improving athletic performance: 1.2 to 1.5 grams of whey protein per 2.2 pounds of body weight along with strength training for 6 to 10 weeks.
  2. For human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-related weight loss: 8.4 to 84 grams of whey protein per day, 2.4 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight per day in a high-calorie formula, or 42 to 84 grams per day in a glutamine-enriched formula.

It is advised to consult your healthcare practitioner before you start whey protein supplements for the long term.

10 health benefits of whey protein

  1. Increased muscle growth
    • Muscle mass declines with age. Loss of muscle mass leads to the deposition of fats and further increases the risk of several chronic diseases.
    • Muscle mass maintenance requires a high amount of protein. Protein breaks down into amino acids that help to rebuild damaged muscle tissue for generating new muscle. Whey protein has abundant branched-chain amino acids called leucine. Therefore, whey protein is effective in preventing age-related muscle loss and improving muscle growth.
    • Whey protein has been more effective than plant protein in promoting muscle growth.
  2. May reduce inflammation
    • Inflammation occurs as a response to the damage happening to the body. Usually, the inflammation is short-term and beneficial. This short-term inflammation turns chronic under certain circumstances.
    • Chronic inflammation is harmful because it may be associated with several health problems, such as:
    • Whey protein can help relieve symptoms of several chronic conditions by reducing inflammation. Studies suggest that regular consumption of whey protein in your diet can help reduce C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a marker of chronic inflammation. It lowers the risk of negative health effects.
  3. May reduce cholesterol levels
    • High low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels are associated with a higher risk of stroke and heart disease.
    • Some previous studies suggest that whey proteins could reduce your bad or LDL cholesterol levels. However, recent studies do not support this claim. The difference of opinion could be due to variance in the study design.
    • To support the use of whey protein in reducing cholesterol levels, further studies are required.
  4. Helps reduce allergies
    • Hydrolyzed form of whey protein consists of smaller sizes of broken protein compared to cow’s milk and soy-based formula.
    • Studies suggest that infants consuming hydrolyzed forms of whey protein have lower chances of experiencing eczema. Infants who are at risk of developing allergies need to be given a formula containing whey hydrolysate to alleviate the risk of allergic reactions.
  5. Helps heal wounds
    • Wound healing requires extra protein and amino acids. The healing process may prolong if the person fails to get adequate protein and amino acids. 
    • Whey protein has high levels of amino acids, such as:
      • Arginine
      • Glycine
      • Leucine
      • Isoleucine
      • Valine
    • These amino acids are essential to promote the healing of bones, skin, and muscle tissues.
    • The physician may recommend whey protein to heal burns or recover after surgery rapidly. Whey protein can effectively help recover from burns and chronic wounds.
  6. Helps gain weight
    • Whey protein may help people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) gain weight. People with AIDS may experience cachexia (a condition experienced by weakness and wasting of the body).
    • Taking protein orally can help decrease weight loss in people with HIV. A study has suggested that increasing the total protein intake in people with HIV may have a positive impact on weight gain.
  7. May lower blood pressure
    • Hypertension has been the primary cause of heart disease. Various studies have associated the consumption of dairy products to lower blood pressure levels because of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.
    • Whey protein has an ACE inhibitor, called lactokinin, that reduces blood pressure.
    • Several studies have shown that whey protein may regulate blood pressure through the action of ACE. Although this ACE effect may not be as potent as the synthetic drugs commonly used to treat hypertension.
    • However, several studies confirmed that whey protein may lower blood pressure in people with elevated blood pressure.
  8. May be beneficial in lactose-intolerant people
    • Whey protein isolate has less than one percent of lactose. Hence, they are ideal for people suffering from lactose intolerance.
    • Several types of whey protein are available, and the lactose content may vary in each form. The ideal option for lactose-intolerant people is whey isolate because it has a higher concentration of protein and less lactose.
  9. May help treat type II diabetes
    • Type II diabetes is high blood sugar due to impaired insulin function. Insulin enables sugar uptake and maintains it within healthy limits. Because whey protein is low in carbohydrates, it can effectively control blood sugar levels by increasing insulin levels and their sensitivity.
    • Whey proteins may have a similar effect to an antidiabetic medication called a sulfonylurea. Hence, physicians may prescribe whey protein as supplements along with antidiabetic medications.
  10. Enhances the body’s antioxidant defenses
    • Antioxidants are essential to prevent oxidation inside the body. Oxidation and the resulting oxidative stress are responsible for various chronic diseases.
    • Glutathione is the most important antioxidant produced in the body. Its production is dependent on the supply of several amino acids, such as cysteine.
    • Cysteine supply could be limited in the body in some cases. A rich source of cysteine-like whey protein can enhance the production of glutathione, thereby bolstering the body’s natural defenses.


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Medically Reviewed on 7/19/2022
Image Source: iStock image

WebMD. Health Benefits of Whey Protein. https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-whey-protein#1

Mayo Clinic. Whey protein. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-whey-protein/art-20363344

Garraud O, Hozzein WN, Badr G. Wound healing: time to look for intelligent, 'natural' immunological approaches? BMC Immunol. 2017 Jun 21;18(Suppl 1):23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5499069/#CR37

Bounous G, Baruchel S, Falutz J, Gold P. Whey proteins as a food supplement in HIV-seropositive individuals. Clin Invest Med. 1993 Jun;16(3):204-9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8365048/