If you want to know the difference between whey protein and whole food protein, this article will show you the pros and cons of these protein sources.
Protein is good for weight loss and muscle growth. Research shows that high-protein diets help control hunger, promote muscle growth and enhance fat loss.
But most people aren’t sure about the best protein sources. Some swear by whey protein while others think protein supplements are bad.
For many years I thought that protein supplements were unhealthy. I later came to learn that quality protein supplements aren’t bad unless you overuse them. But it’s important to mention that I still don’t use them.
Before we look into the difference between whey protein and protein food, let me make it clear that whey protein isn’t steroids. Whey protein is a type of protein derived from milk.
Here are thing you should consider when deciding whether to use whey protein or protein food.
Difference between whey protein and protein food
Whey protein vs protein food: Nutrients
Protein foods have more vitamins and minerals that may not be found in whey protein.
For instance, fish contains omega 3s which help fight inflammation and depression while whey protein doesn’t contain this nutrient.
You’re better off eating eggs, beef, and fish if you want to get a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
Whey protein vs protein food: Protein quality
Protein quality is usually measured using BV. BV measures how much of the protein consumed is absorbed into the body. Foods with high protein absorption rate have high BV.
Whey protein has higher BV than protein food. Only whole eggs have the same protein quality as whey protein (BV of 100).
Beef has a BV of 80, fish – 76, and beans 49.
In short, 10 grams of whey protein have more protein than 10 grams of beef.
But this is not something you should stress over if you eat adequate amounts of protein in every meal.
Whey protein vs protein food: Side effects
Whey protein may have negative side effects to some people.
As I mentioned earlier, whey protein is made from milk, so this means it can cause stomach upset and bloating in people who are lactose intolerant.
But this doesn’t mean that whey protein is off limits for people who are lactose intolerant. Whey protein isolate has low amounts lactose and may not cause stomach upset.
Whey protein vs protein food: Convenience
Whey protein is marketed as a muscle building supplement but its main benefit is convenience.
It takes seconds to prepare a protein shake. And this can super-helpful for someone who doesn’t have time to cook every meal.
And unlike food protein sources, whey protein can be stored for a long period without going bad.
If you’re too busy with work or school, use protein powder to reach your daily protein needs.
Research actually shows that getting some of your daily calories from whey protein can enhance weight loss and muscle growth.
Whey protein vs protein food: Additives
If you want to eat all-natural meals, whey protein may not fit in your diet.
Whey protein contains preservatives and artificial sweeteners. As of now, there isn’t any evidence showing that moderate intake of whey protein is harmful. But excessive intake (I’m talking high amounts) can cause kidney problems and sometimes death.
Unprocessed protein food on the other hand doesn’t have any additives. So stick to natural foods if you’re worried about the additives.
Whey protein vs protein food: Affordability
Most people think that whey protein is more expensive than whole food protein but that’s not true.
If you’re on a tight budget, whey protein will come in handy. It’ll save you time and money. Plus you can snack on it every time you’re hungry.
5 pounds of whey protein can last you a month and they cost about 50 dollars.
Whey protein vs protein food: Muscle growth and performance
Most people use whey protein with hopes of experiencing accelerated muscle growth, only to be disappointed. The truth is whey protein doesn’t increase muscles mass without strength training.
In fact, research shows that whole food protein is just as effective as whey protein in building muscles mass.
In this study, researchers compared two groups of chubby (but healthy) people. One group ate six meals of solid food while the other group ate 3 solid meals and 3 protein shakes. The participants also did strength training.
At the end of the study, both groups had equal improvements in body composition and physical performance.
So you don’t have to worry about which protein source is better for muscle growth, they’re equally effective. Just make sure you eat enough protein every day.
Whey protein vs protein food: Hunger and satiety
Protein is the most filling nutrient of the three macronutrients. But which protein source is better for suppressing hunger?
Whole food protein will make you feel fuller than a protein shake.
I may also note that some whey protein products contain artificial sweeteners which can increase sugar cravings. So you’re better off eating whole food proteins if you want to control hunger.
But snacking on whey protein instead of cookies will keep you full for long.
Whey protein vs protein food: Weight loss
Just because whole food protein is more feeling doesn’t mean it’ll help you lose more weight. Whole foods have more calories than protein shakes.
Foods like beef have high amounts of fats which increase their calorie content.
Eating whey protein can help reduce your total daily caloric intake.
The results of this study on individuals with metabolic syndrome show that participants who took protein supplements lost more weight and body fat over a period of one year compared to participants who didn’t consume supplements.
Whey protein and protein foods have pros and cons. Now, it’s upon you to decide the best protein source for you.
Personally, I prefer whole food protein and I don’t have any reason to consume whey protein.
But if you’re too busy to cook, feel free add whey protein to your diet.
That said, whey protein shouldn’t be a replacement to whole foods. Most of the calories you consume should come from whole foods.
Do you prefer whey protein or whole food protein?