This question is often asked and the answer is: "Plenty!"
But the best part is none of the many side effects are serious. In fact, not many even relate to Whey Protein and arise from somewhere else. Without analyzing, people often put the entire blame on whey protein whereas the blame lies elsewhere. Let us explain this topic in a bit more detail to clear the doubts.
Source of Whey Protein: Milk
Milk per se is laxative and if you have it in large quantity soon you will rush to the nearest washroom.
When whey protein is totally derived from this source, despite any and every refinement, the product retains most of the inherent qualities. Everybody is different and normally up to 2.5-3 grams of whey protein per kilogram of bodyweight is well tolerated.
If you go above the stipulated dose then, depending on your body type:
- you may throw up,
- have nausea, or
- experience flatulence
- even visit the washroom often due to diarrhea, or
- end up having a stiff constipation
As we said earlier, none of these symptoms are life-threatening. Soon you can find the toleration level your body has and when you stay within limits, none of the above conditions return.
There are many people who cannot tolerate milk. Obviously they will never consume milk in its original form and whey manufacturers have successfully created products for these unique type. The products are:
- Whey Protein Isolate, and
- Whey Protein Hydrolysate
We discuss these products below.
Whey Protein for Non-milk tolerant
Whey manufacturers have managed to isolate whey protein from the inherent milk ingredients. As a result, you get a product named Whey Protein Isolate and majority of it is only protein and miniscule, if any, milk properties. As a result even non-milk tolerant people also can happily consume this protein variety and get all the benefits whey protein brings to the table.
This same Whey Protein Isolate is hydrolyzed and the result is a highly digestible (or pre-digested) form of whey protein called Whey Protein Hydrolysate appears. Those who cannot tolerate the Isolate variety can surely use this one without any difficulty.
Insufficient Gaps between Workouts and Supplements
Don’t run … you just had your lunch!
Mothers always warned their pupils and they had a solid reasoning behind. When you eat, your body is at rest and so is your stomach. After filling it if you suddenly start running, all the blood shifts gear and tries reaching your muscles leaving the undigested food in a lump. This lump when tossed about pains and forces you to slow down, till you walk normally.
Wait for a few minutes after workout before you reach for your Whey Protein Shake. Wrap your equipment, place dumbbells on their places … tell your brain you are wrapping up. Stroll a few minutes before sitting down and after spending a few minutes reach out for your drink.
Actually when you’re working out, your blood is focused on to your muscles—and totally away from your stomach and digestive engine. This basically hits pause on the muscle contractions that move food through your digestive tract, a.k.a. peristalsis.
As this shift in blood flow occurs, the shake will simply sit in the stomach rather than being digested quickly, and this delay can either trigger nausea or flatulence because of the shake simply flows into channels and blocking everything in its vicinity.
You Gulped Down Too Fast!
Son … enjoy your drink … take a small sip, roll it around and enjoy … then slowly push it down!
Mothers transfer the technology best and the above is no different.
You are drinking the shake asking the body to digest but without sufficient saliva, it just cannot happen. It is pertinent to mix all the saliva present in your mouth before throwing down for digestion.
When you gulp down too fast, insufficient saliva hampers the digestion process. Moreover your stomach just cannot process all that liquid in one go and it processes only a fraction. This means only a fraction of essential nutrients reach the muscles and you are destined to lose four times over:
- Muscle tissues don’t get nutrition when needed the most
- No repair and rebuilding of muscles and as a result next day’s exercise not up to the mark
- You lose one full day of exercise and cannot reach your goal
- You lose money because most of the protein powder used in the shake goes waste, and
- If you created a really tasty smoothie, all your efforts go down the drain.
Our body works best when a task is fed in bits and pieces. Feed your drink in small mouthfuls and your stomach accepts gleefully and does its best too. Lastly, once you have emptied your bottle, remember what we told earlier:
Don’t Run …
Rushing Never Helps: weight-lifting is a must
Today’s generation is restless and always in a hurry. No one wants to crawl and always looking for quick results and ready for shortcuts. Bodybuilding, however, is even slower than a snails walk. Slowly and steadily you start gaining but today “slow and steady” is past and “quick and easy” is the new mantra.
People think gulping whey will get them all they look forward to:
- Muscular body
- Bulging biceps
- Chiseled body
- Six-pack abs, …
But without resistance training, weight-lifting it is a distant dream. Until you cross your limits while lifting weights, even whey protein is not going to help.
Youngsters easily skip the above paragraph and start consuming Whey Protein in multiples of the recommended dosage believing to achieve all the above in no time. But all the money goes down in doldrums and they end up nowhere. For us, this is the biggest side effect. The body takes couple of weeks to restore normalcy going through a tough time of vomiting, constipation, diarrhea etc.
Whey Can Lead to Kidney Stones
Whey is basically only protein and over consumption can lead to kidney stones formation no doubt. Also many opine that excess protein puts too much pressure on liver needing work overtime to help it integrate and assimilate the nutrients into our system.
But this theory can be negated by two ways:
- If you combine whey protein consumption with weight-lifting and other strenuous exercises, most of the whey is already accounted for and even if there is over consumption, it is unable to create any tough imbalances.
- Kidney stones are only reported by those who had a previous history and it has no relation to eating whey protein in an overdose. In fact, even if they ate more tomatoes, they might get kidney stones.
- Even if stones result, drinking excess water helps you dissolve the stones while they are growing and there are no complications.
Is Mineral Imbalance Possible from Excess Whey Protein?
Some studies suggest that high protein presence in the body might lead to mineral imbalance which can cause the loss of mineral bone density. But this threat is obviated because when you indulge in resistance training, weight lifting, the protein is already used up in repairing and rebuilding muscles and very small quantity is left over which cannot threaten the whole system.
You Can’t Digest Sweeteners in the Product Mix
Athletes usually consume whey protein from a supplement which has an admixture of sweeteners. Obviously, you cannot blame whey protein for this, but as sweeteners are part & parcel of the mix many might as well put the blame on the innocent protein.
Many protein supplements are sweetened with sugar alcohols like Sorbitol and Maltitol and a questionable product, isolated fructose. Common people do not understand the vagaries of these ingredients but they do upset the stomach for no valid reason.
We recommend bodybuilders to read the labels on the bottles carefully and opt for only those supplements having either Stevia or Aspartame because both are quite safe and do not hurt our tummies either.
Ketosis: High Protein Low Carb Diet Fad
Many adopt fad diets where they consume only high carbs and only next-to-nothing carbohydrates. This diet helps you fat no doubt but a prolonged use and force to enter a ketosis state, where your body burns fat as source of energy due to lack of carbohydrates.
For some time this is okay but when you prolong this, then it stresses the liver and causes destruction of muscle tissues. If you do not pay heed, then kidney failure is always a possibility.
If you have lost considerable weight or are somewhere near the goal, it is best if you leave this fad diet start consuming a few grams of carbohydrates daily.
Blaming whey protein for pursuing Ketosis Fad Diet Plan definitely does not make sense. One can either pursue that particular plan or swear not to blame Whey Protein for the results.
Bodybuilders often love to drink whey protein shakes. Irrespective of whether they mix it with yoghurt, a seasonal fruit, water or milk the athlete develops a bloated tummy, like a small football and it amazes everyone around.
This bloating is temporary and once the shake and the whey protein therein is digested, this bloat, or the football disappears quickly and within no time you won’t even remember it was there. Though it is not anything to worry about, but yes it is a side effect.
Manifestation of Acne Vulgaris
Teenagers are more susceptible for hormonal changes and Acne is the first obvious result which appears visually all over the face. If the same person also starts consumption of Whey Protein, then the process of Acne is accelerated and they appear more rapidly.
This happens because some hormones and bioactive peptides present in whey protein increase the sebum production manifold. People who consume whey protein supplements are more prone to acne and often complain of the same.
It is often marked that once they start rigorous weight-lifting and other strenuous exercises, this sebum production registers a big loss and stability is observed all over the body.
Shooting Insulin Levels Higher
Research shows that when you consume whey protein based supplements after workouts, increase the insulin levels thereby reducing the overall availability of glucose. This can lead to lethargy as less glucose means the body is short on burning fuel.
The easy way out is to mix some simple sugars to alleviate this problem. The best part is once lethargy is observed; corrective action can be taken immediately. One small change and everything returns to normal and there is nothing left to worry.
Imbalanced Nutrient Composition Varies between Supplements
When you compare protein available naturally as in eggs, meat etc. the proteins available in supplements have an unbalanced nutrient composition. Nature has its own way of putting the nutrients but supplement manufacturers use their own brain and create a composition which may not suit every person. This may not be apparent to all, but only after consuming the supplement for long may bring forth some complications.
Again, this is a supplement problem and not of Whey Protein as such.
The solution is very simple. Start consuming fresh vegetables, fruits and other sources of protein like soy, eggs etc. so that our body can easily grab the nutrients not available and balance out. Soon you find all complications start disappearing.
Conclusion Whey Protein is the wonder nutrient nature has provided to us. For best results, weight lifting and other strenuous exercises and the willingness to cross the limits daily is a must.
Unless you train hard, consumption of whey protein makes no difference to your muscular frame and all whey protein lies unutilized and creates problem for our whole body.
All the problems mentioned can easily be solved and whey protein is nowhere to be blamed.
It can be fairly concluded that whey protein is innocent in itself and has almost no or zero side effects which can worry a normal human being!