Whey protein is one of the most popular supplements that athletes take during their training. It has been claimed that taking whey protein alone or ideally in combination with creatine has been shown to increase strength, endurance and fuel muscle growth.
These are highly desirable attributes and thus it is no surprise that whey protein is on shelves at every fitness store.
What Is Whey Protein?
Whey is a milk product usually derived from cow’s milk. Specifically, curd is a dairy product that is formed from the coagulation of milk when mixed with edible acidic ingredients. The liquid watery substance that is left remaining after the curd has been strained off is whey.
Whey protein supplements are made from the protein extracted from this watery substance. The reason why whey protein is so popular is because it is supposed to be an incredibly rich source of amino acids, is easily digested by most people, absorbed efficiently by the body and is overall considered the most nutritious protein that is available.
There are several kinds of whey available in the market. The whey isolate is the one which is usually a little more expensive, but that is the one you want to go for since it is 90% or more whey. Other composite supplements may have a much lower percentage of whey (20-40%) making up the rest with filler, carbohydrates, and fats.
Most people recommend 20-25 grams of whey per day for people whose main goal is fat loss while twice that or even 1 gram per body weight in kilograms is recommended for people that are looking to pack on muscle and mass.
Whey And Increased Bowel Movements
While most people do not have any problem in digesting whey protein, a small percentage of people complain of increased bloating, frequent bowel movements, diarrhea, and flatulence. The most common reason behind this is lactose intolerance.
Whey is made from cow’s milk and contains a high percentage of lactose. A reaction to lactose sugar is seen in people that have a reduced amount of enzymes required to digest this sugar.
Typically, the symptoms of lactose intolerance will begin around 30 minutes after ingestion of milk, whey or other food products containing lactose. The affected individual may complain of pain in the stomach, cramps, bloating, diarrhea and excess gas formation.
There is also another subset of people that complain of constipation after taking whey protein. This could be because of the increased protein in their diet and a corresponding lack of fiber. Their problem is easily solved by increasing the amount of roughage being consumed on a daily basis.
There is no "cure" for lactose intolerance and if the above-mentioned symptoms consistently appear after ingesting lactose then it may be time to change supplements. Look for products that have a different origin, like soy. If milk is a part of your diet then stick to the lactose-free versions which should be digested just fine.
The use of anti-diarrheal medication, probiotics or other similar products can help, however, they only provide short-term relief, if any. They do not solve the root cause of the problem.
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