Whey protein is a nutritional supplement valued for its amino acid content. In addition to protein, it provides calories to your diet. Therefore, if you consume more whey protein than your body needs, the excess may convert to fat and be stored in various parts of your body, including your face and stomach. As with any nutritional supplement, seek the advice of your health care practitioner or a dietitian before including whey protein as a regular part of your diet.
Whey is a milk protein, and whey supplements derive from the protein-rich liquid left over from the cheese-making process. Whey protein is available as a concentrate, with 30 to 90 percent protein and variable lactose levels; as an isolate, with a minimum of 90 percent protein and no lactose or fat; or as a hydrolysate, with the whey protein partially digested for easier absorption by your gastrointestinal system. Because protein can serve as a fuel source for your cells, whey protein supplements add calories to your diet, and the number of calories you consume can affect the amount of fat in your face and your stomach.
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When you take in more calories than you burn over time, your body stores the excess as a reserve of fat tissue. Although you might find this phenomenon annoying, it is, in fact, a protective mechanism your body uses to guard against times when calories may be scarce. The location of fat storage on your body depends to some degree on your sex and your genetics. For example, you might accumulate fat on your hips, on your face or around your abdomen. No one specific food causes fat buildup in an area of your body. Rather, consuming too many calories, no matter what the food source, results in fat deposits located in your personal fat-prone areas.
Lactose is milk sugar, comprising a glucose and a galactose molecule bound together. Whey protein concentrates contain lactose, and during the digestion process, the digestive enzyme lactase breaks apart the sugar molecule so the individual glucose and galactose units can be absorbed. However, if your small intestine cannot synthesize lactase, you cannot digest lactose, leading to lactose intolerance. This condition can result in intestinal gas and abdominal bloating. Although not due to fat deposits, whey protein can make your stomach appear fatter as a symptom of lactose intolerance.
If your face and stomach seem to be fatter when you add whey protein to your diet, you may simply be consuming more calories than you intend. You also may be allergic to the whey protein supplement, although allergy symptoms due to whey generally include hives, skin rash or breathing difficulty. Check with your doctor if you notice swelling in any body part following ingestion of a dietary supplement.