Whey protein for energy, not bulking up? theories?
April 27, 2011 11:03 AM   Subscribe

Wondering about using 20garms of Whey in the morning for my "am" food. Will it help me lose weight or expand the benefit of my exercise or does it only make you bulk up?

I am reading so much about health and fitness. i am on a healthy diet and exercising a great deal but am not feeling rejuvenated after. I am actually feeling exhausted after and sleepy. I am with a nutritionist but I can't depend completely on her so i am doing a great deal of reading on my own. I am seeing so much research on Whey protein and having 20 grams prior to exercise, or in the morning is great for you. Also to use the "am" hours as a detoxification time. Try to have whey for breakfast and fruit and use the "Pm" hours for food and sustenance.
My huge concern is that whey protein is used to bulk up??? I am trying to lose weight but am reading everywhere that 20 grams of whey will help that and help my metabolism work for 24 hours after exercise. (I exercise in the morning). I want some feedback here, interested in opinions, etc. I am also lactose intolerant if it means anything? Is it not good to mix with *milk*?
posted by femmme to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Whey will not make you 'bulk up'. Whey can be mixed with just water, but it *is* derived from milk so you might want to go with a pea or hemp protein.

The added protein may help you with muscle building, but terms like 'detoxification' are hand-wavey nonsense and have no place in real nutrition.

Creatine may help you with your high-intensity workouts.
posted by unixrat at 11:11 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Protein is protein. People don't just gain muscle after eating a steak (10oz -> 72g protein) and you won't get huge from having a protein shake. It might help if you think of protein as a different type of calorie and energy (since it is) instead of some type of muscle powder.

I think for breakfast a micellar casein protein is better to use. It is a bit slower digesting and more meal like. It's fine to mix protein powder with milk or water.

As far as the timing, I think carbs + protein are better pre exercise and protein + fat is better post workout.
posted by zephyr_words at 11:27 AM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you're lactose intolerant, whey protein powder may trigger that. It depends on the person -- the lactose in the powder is enough to bother some folks, and not enough for others. You could try an alternative, though: there are vegan protein powders, egg protein powders, etc. If you can't have milk, you can mix the powder with water or with a milk substitute (almond milk, soy milk, lactose-free milk, etc).

It won't make you bulk up. Most people are a bit low on protein anyway, so some extra protein is not going to hurt, and it will probably help your metabolism. I'd suggest drinking it shortly after exercise rather than in the morning or before exercise, though -- when you feel "exhausted after and sleepy", that's exactly the right time to take it. I'd also suggest eating a real breakfast instead. Starving yourself in the morning is a bad idea, and unixrat is right about the meaninglessness of "detox"!
posted by vorfeed at 11:27 AM on April 27, 2011

The protein won't make you bulk. Skip the fruit, you don't need the carbs if you're trying to lean out. The 'AM Detox' idea is not helpful, forget about it.

What are you eating the rest of the day? If your other meals are not on target, then your protein shake won't make a difference.

Feeling exhausted and sleepy sounds like you're not getting enough food. You can actually handicap yourself by dieting too little and trigger you body to conserve calories. Eat lots more veggies and healthy fat. A lot. The PWO mean is meant to be a supplement, not a meal replacement.

Here's some good reading about Post-workout (PWO) food:


posted by jpeacock at 11:28 AM on April 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

Whey will make you bulk up the same way carrots, ice cream, and saltwater taffy will: it is just calories and bulking up is dependent upon your total diet and activity level.

There are different protein supplement formulations. Most are just whey with some flavoring and vitamins/amino acids added. The bulking supplements are whey with a shit ton of sugar. Here is a good whey supplement (99% lactose free).

Exercise and nutrition is such a muddled series of research and articles. Protein is great in the morning, but probably because they are comparing it to most breakfasts which are high in carbs and fat and low in protein (think muffin, bagel, poptart). Really, a lot of this depends on what you are doing now.

I am a weightlifter and occasional triathlete. I take whey before my workout and I take it after. Also after, I try to have complex carbs; a piece of fruit at the very least. I don't know what kind of exercise you are doing, but this will help you prep your body recover. As I said above, information is quite muddled and I am sure other people will chime in with other suggestions but that is what is working for me.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:29 AM on April 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

Ok. Some basic stuff here.

1. Protein

Seconding what folks mentioned above, protein doesn't make you buffed by it's own virtue. It's a building block your body uses to build muscle. If you're doing muscle building exercises and you're eating enough protein, your body builds muscle. If both of those aren't true, you're not going to "bulk up".

2. Calories

You gain weight when you eat more calories than you burn, you lose weight when you burn more calories than you need. Whether this comes from protein, fat, carbs, whatever, has little effect on the weight gain/loss factor. (It can have effects on important things like blood sugar or likelihood of heart disease, but that's a separate thing).

3. Energy

So, your body has two things that typically give it energy moment to moment. Blood sugar, for one. And electrolytes for the other. If all you eat is some protein powder before workout, your body is not getting much of either- and if this was after 7-8 hours of sleeping (no food, still burnign calories), you're probably depleted on both.

After the workout, you've burned what little reserves you've got and sweated out a lot of electrolytes. Consider having some food after you workout as well - this is a good time to put stuff back in.

4. Detox

Don't worry about this at this time. If you're eating healthy, working out, you'll push out whatever funk your body can and should be pushing out. Most info on "detox" is terrible misinformation that leads a lot of people into health issues rather than out of them. Don't eat bad things, exercise and sweat, and you'll detox just fine.
posted by yeloson at 11:44 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Tim Ferriss recommends 30 grams of protein (whey is fine) within 30 minutes of waking up to jump start your metabolism for the day.

I'm post-pregnancy and loving his new fitness book right now.
posted by jbenben at 12:05 PM on April 27, 2011

There is no benefit from ingesting whey in the morning. Absolutely none. Anything about it "boosting your metabolism" is nonsense. If you're dieting down for weight loss, it's best to simply eat less and move more often. The main use of whey protein shakes is to ensure sufficient protein intake (70-120g daily for people lifting weights) in the scenario that you're not getting enough of it through whole foods.
posted by Evernix at 1:13 PM on April 27, 2011

Whey protein powder is what I eat every morning. I mix it with almond milk. My husband takes his with water. It doesn't do much but help be feel fuller until lunch time. If I eat a carb-based breakfast, I'm ravenous by 10:00. On the days that I work out, I have my protein shake afterward.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 2:14 PM on April 27, 2011

Whey won't bulk you up, but if you mix it with water as your only breakfast, it may very well make you feel quite ill. It is not like eating a chicken breast, it's intended to be absorbed very fast which is why body builders and fitness types take it immediately after working out.
I think if you want to get protein in the morning for the sake of satiety, you'd be better off with something a bit more slow-digesting than whey.

As far as the timing, I think carbs + protein are better pre exercise and protein + fat is better post workout

If you want the protein to go to your muscles when they are primed it's protein + carbs immediately post-workout.
posted by ch1x0r at 3:48 PM on April 27, 2011

Eat more! I favorited the person who said as much above, but if you are tired and exhausted that is a Common sign that your body has gone into starvation mode and thus is consuming muscle (those muscles you worked so hard to build!) and storing fat. I'd often discounted that on my own weight loss journey (and I did why powder for awhile - you can get plenty of protein from Food, which I prefer), but recently joined a women's weight loss challenge at my Y. The nutritionist checks us for weight and body fat percentage each week, and more than half of the women in the program have gone into starvation mode. More food (and sometimes rest) has been the answer!

So you're doing a lot of things right, but definitely have those carbs before your workout (bananas are great), and have carbs and protein after, as soon after as possible. Our trainer recommended a little chocolate milk, and we all love it and feel better for it. Then you can pack other protein-rich food (cottage cheese! Beans!) into your meals afterward.

Use one of the many on-line daily meal/nutrient/exercise trackers to see what you're actually eating and burning. It'll almost certainly tell you to eat more lean protein, fruits and veggies.
posted by ldthomps at 6:40 AM on April 28, 2011

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