Are protein supplements really the whey to go?

Health, Pilates, Wellbeing, wellness, Yoga

Protein shakes have divided nations! Some will be critical of the singlet toting gym junky’s protein shaker and others will feel inspired to shake themselves. So should you protein shake?

To shake or not to shake?

One quality scientific review, found protein supplementation with resistance training to increase muscle mass more than resistance training alone. Additionally, in conjunction with a healthy diet protein supplementation can aid in fat loss (1). A further review study found protein ingestion with resistance training to increase muscle mass, strength, explosive power and power during endurance based tasks more than resistance training alone (2). This tells us you should get shaking!


What, when, how to shake: 

If it is an entire protein supplement you are consuming such as whey powder, then consuming the product within 30 minutes post workout appears to offer maximal strength and muscle mass benefits (3). Consuming protein after a workout becomes even more effective when it is consumed with a high GI carbohydrate like glucose or maltodextrin. Try adding a spoonful of honey to your shake or buy maltodextrin powder and add a sprinkle.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and one such amino acid is Leucine. It appears that protein supplements containing 3-4g per dose of leucine most optimise the amount of protein effectively used (synthesised) by the body. Consuming any normal whey protein should achieve this.

Alternatively, If you consume an isolated amino acid supplement (more expensive), you’re best taking this pre-workout. Although these are more expensive than protein supplements and confer no further benefit (3).


Is it healthful?

Yes, the singlet clad gym junkie was right. Take whey protein after your workout with a bit of honey for best effect.

Our verdict: very healthful. 


27 thoughts on “Are protein supplements really the whey to go?

  1. YES, BUT (I’m making buttface!!!)…I’ve read studies and articles that link high protein diets with shortened lifespan. So, while protein shakes might give you extra muscle, curb hunger, increase fat loss etc., by consuming all this excess protein we could be shortening our lifespans.

    Here’s a link to an article discussing the subject: Link.

    I remember querying the issue when I first started bodybuilding a few years ago when it was pointed out to me by my GP that bodybuilders don’t live long. Even when you take steroids out of the picture (i.e. look at stats pre mid 1970s), they just don’t. Other sportspeople who typically eat very high protein diets also don’t live long – larger American football players, for instance, are known to have very short lifespans and studies are now being done on the dietary factors that may be involved.

    Put it bluntly, as quite a serious bodybuilder heading towards competition, I’m not in any rush to consume more protein than is necessary. I eat a very average amount of meat, very little dairy, and base my diet on fresh fruit and veggies. I’m putting on muscle just fine (i’m one of the strongest women in my country). I think the protein rush is a craze, and possibly a dangerous one.

    Certainly there is no need for the typical Jane or Joe to take protein shakes, I don’t take them, and no need for even the typical athlete to take them. For very high level athletes, I’d say maybe – but only a very hesitant maybe, and only for the short few years at which they’re at peak training.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha the old buttface. You pose a very compelling argument, but I’m going to have to disagree.

      With regard to the article you have referenced. The Australian study and the American study that paralleled it, were both conducted on mice, which in terms of scientific evidence is considered extremely weak. In fact there are several articles that have reported the complete opposite in mice: that protein ingestion through whey supplementation in fact increases longevity (;; and This means there is equal, if not more evidence that protein supplementation increases lifespan.

      Regarding the life expectancy of body builders and large NFL players, I’m yet to find any epidemiological data stating that they actually live shorter lives. Additionally, if such data suggested that they do live shorter lives how do we know excess protein is the cause? It could be the strain that excess mass (be it muscle or fat) places on the cardiovascular system and for the NFL players it could be the hits they take – the negative effects on the brain are well documented – among other things. It could also be excessive creatine phosphate supplementation, which may place stress on the liver.

      To say there is no need for you or the average Joe to take supplemental protein, I feel is wrong, based on science. A 2015 review of over 30 scientific studies found that protein supplementation increased strength, hypertrophy, aerobic and anaerobic power in both trained and untrained individuals. Average Joe or not, why wouldn’t you want to maximise your athletic performance and muscle mass?

      So in summary, I’m not advocating consuming copious amounts of protein. I’m merely suggesting that based on science protein supplementation optimises resistance training adaptations, without losing any substantiated negative health effects.


      1. Love them, and so do my patients, especially those that do Sport’s. Interestingly that study is aimed at the beauty market, whereas I am much more interested in the health one. I have an article which I can send you if you are interested, and if you want to keep your anonimity from the rest of the world, you can email me through my blog (I think) and I will send them to you.


  2. I am working out from past 19 years but I never find taking supplements ,one side you are writing on yoga other side on supplement very contradictory ,yoga stress on natural and supplement are not natural


    1. Fantastic question! I believe the theory is that a high GI carbohydrate will quickly increase blood glucose levels. This in turn, will stimulate the release of insulin, which in addition to clearing blood glucose stimulates protein synthesis, essentially optimising the amount of protein utilised for muscle growth.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Just in practice, I’ve seen excess intake of protein supplements causing a swollen or puffy looking face. I am not sure of the correlation, but it seems an excess can cause some pretty concerning health effects. As a vegetarian, I try to obtain my proteins from nature sources such as chia seeds, different nuts and legumes. I find this more effective and less causative of strange symptoms that protein powders always cause me; however, I feel a non-GMO, organic, gluten-free protein powder supplement is a great benefit to any workout! Very good article!!! I enjoyed the read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Dawn. Yeah I couldn’t agree more, I think excess protein consumption can certainly be detrimental. As you’ve also mentioned the more natural the protein, the less messed with, the better. Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on SnapBack and commented:
    Our experience with whey protein isolates in our drinks is that they give you a wider range of ingredient blending options because the isolate has less mass then regular sweet cream whey. We agree there appears to be no difference in benefit to you.


    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for the comment.

      The recommended intake by Australian’s national body is 1.5-1.7 g/kg body weight in early stage training and 1-1.2 g/kg body weight in steady state training. Above this is likely just waste. It appears consuming protein close to workouts is more beneficial, which is why protein shakes can be great.

      Too much protein intake has been associated with premature death in animal populations. However, the opposite has been found of too little protein. So all in all, while there isn’t clear data excess protein can be dangerous, I would suggest consuming as per the levels recommended by your country’s peak nutrition body and close to training.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great read. I do agree mostly on using protein shakes to gain muscle, lose weight and to use before or after your daily workouts. I usually have a shake everyday before working out, which gives me alot of energy or just as a meal replacement.

    Liked by 1 person

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