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How Often Should You Drink Whey Protein Per Week?

author image Caroline Thompson
Caroline Thompson is a professional photojournalist who has been working for print and online publications since 1999. Her work has appeared in the "Sacramento Bee," "People Magazine," "Newsweek" and other publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in photojournalism from California State University at Hayward and a personal trainer certification from the university's Health and Fitness Institute.
How Often Should You Drink Whey Protein Per Week?
Two scoopers filled with whey protein Photo Credit: marekuliasz/iStock/Getty Images

Whey is the liquid that remains during the cheese-making process. Whey powder is made from the filtered and dried liquid. Studies have tested the benefits of whey protein for muscle-building, weight loss and as a dietary supplement to combat diseases, such as diabetes. According to NYU Langone Medical Center, there is limited supporting evidence for any medicinal uses of whey protein. The typical dose of whey protein is 20 to 30 grams per day , but this amount varies according to your intended use and goals.

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Weight Loss

The August 1, 2011 issue of the “Journal of Nutrition” published a study that demonstrated the weight loss benefits of 56 grams of supplemental whey protein consumed twice daily for 23 weeks. Ninety overweight and obese study participants were divided into three groups, a whey protein group, a soy protein group and a carbohydrate group. Each group consumed the same number of calories. At the end of the 23-week study, the whey protein group had a lower body weight, lower fat mass and waist circumference and lower levels of fasting ghrelin than the soy protein and carbohydrate groups. Ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger is typically higher before eating and when fasting.

Muscle Growth

Bodybuilding and strength training causes a nitrogen imbalance in your body, requiring a higher level of protein intake for muscle growth and recovery. For nitrogen balance, 1.2 to 2.2 grams of protein per 2.2 pounds of bodyweight is needed, according to a review published in the June 2006 issue of the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.” The review found that drinking whey protein directly before or after exercise enhanced muscle growth and help to stimulate muscle hypertrophy. For muscle growth, you need to drink a whey protein shake before or after exercise each day you workout. For example, if you workout five days per week, then five whey protein drinks would increase your muscle mass. Whey protein is also a fast digesting protein, which gives your body a rapid source of amino acids to help build muscle. Whey protein also enhances anabolism during the day when drank between meals. For maximum muscle growth and to reduce muscle wasting, two whey protein drinks can be drunk on every training day.

Healthy Aging

Amino acid metabolism in the elderly slows causing age-related muscle loss. Supplementing your diet can reduce this muscle wasting and improve overall amino acid metabolism. Fast digesting whey protein reduces muscle loss in the elderly better than casein protein, a slow digesting protein, according to a study published in the October 2008 issue of “Nutrition Research.” The study found that 15 grams of whey protein improved muscle maintenance in the elderly while reducing muscle loss. Supplementing your diet with protein drinks containing 15 grams of protein daily will help build and maintain skeletal muscle improving quality of life.

Diabetes Supplement

Whey protein used as a supplement for patients with type 2 diabetes helps improve insulin response and reduce blood glucose response, according to a study published in the July 2005 issue of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” The study evaluated 14 people with type 2 diabetes after feeding them a high glycemic index breakfast and lunch adding a whey protein supplement on alternate days. The study found that blood sugar levels were more constant and insulin response was higher when whey protein was included with the meal. Adding two whey protein drinks per day seven days a week, or 14 whey protein drinks, can help patients with type 2 diabetes manage blood sugar levels and insulin response especially when eating a high GI diet. However, researchers state further studies are needed to test the long-term effects of whey protein on insulin response and blood glucose control.

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