Whenever we hear about whey protein, we tend to think of men — more specifically, big men with bulging muscles. Protein is the building block for muscle development and growth, which is why many men who are looking to bulk up in the gym will supplement their regular diets and workouts with whey protein.
For this same reason, many women stay away from whey protein, believing that it will cause them to bulk up like a man. However, women tend to ignore one important thing when it comes to whey protein and physiology: Men and women have drastically different hormones and body processes. So while everyone synthesizes protein, women lack the necessary hormones to synthesize protein into large muscles.
Though it’s certainly not for everyone, women who are trying to slim down while sculpting lean bodies and strong muscles — without necessarily adding bulk — may want to consider adding whey protein into their training regimen. Here’s why.
Will It Make Me Bulky?
I first heard about whey protein when I got a personal trainer and he suggested I add whey protein in my fitness diet plan. At first, I balked. “What?” I thought, “I’m supposed to be losing weight, not gaining it!”
My trainer explained that, yes, we may be trying to lose fat on targeted areas like my stomach and arms, but I needed to add muscle to areas areas like my chest, thighs, and glutes. “It’s like hitting two birds with one stone,” he said. I was skeptical. I even missed my next session, because I was busy researching whey protein. Back then, I was desperate to lose weight, and I was convinced that drinking more calories in the form of whey protein was not going to help me.
Furthermore, I had a bodybuilder friend who competed professionally, and he told me whey protein was his staple drink. There was no way I wanted to look like him!
But of course, I was ignoring the science.
Men and women synthesize protein differently because we have different hormones. While all human beings synthesizes protein to build and strengthen muscles, women lack the necessary or innate hormones to easily add bulk. For a woman to achieve that bulky, muscular look, she has to work twice as hard in the gym as a man would.
Instead, women tend to use and synthesize proteins to make our muscles stronger and firmer. You may already have a slim and slender figure, but if that is only made of soft muscles or fat, it will sag as you age. Developing firm and strong muscle tone will give you that lean, long look, and a killer physique that will stay with you as you age.
Benefits Of Whey Protein For Women
Now, don’t get me wrong. Whey protein isn’t for everyone, and we don’t recommend you use it on a consistent basis (read more about how to cycle supplements in a healthy way). However, there are numerous benefits of whey protein for women.
It promotes lean muscle mass.
You might be thinking, “I can just get my protein from food sources,” and you’re not wrong. However, it’s not always easy to get enough of a concentration of needed protein to build muscle unless you eat a lot of these food groups — as well as the fat and calories that go with it. Additionally, whey protein, is made to be readily absorbed. Plus, it’s not always easy to cook up a steak immediately after a workout (which is when you want to be feeding your muscles). A whey protein shake takes the guesswork out of it.
It can help boost your metabolism.
Who would have thought that whey protein could actually help you burn more calories? The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic resting rate will be, and whey protein encourages muscle growth.
Again, it’s recommended you drink whey protein immediately after a workout, since it’s easily digestible, rapidly boosting protein synthesis while also limiting cortisol production. In case you are wondering what cortisol is, it’s a stress hormone which tends to limit muscle growth.
It helps you feel fuller for longer.
Protein helps you feel full for longer, which is why having protein after a workout is essential, not just for muscle building, but to prevent cravings and over-eating after the gym. You may find you’re less likely to reach for a sugary treat if you’re not starving after a workout.
It’s a good for your immune system.
Whey protein is actually rich in glutathione: You know, that trendy antioxidant sweeping the beauty industry, which promises to give you fair and glowing skin Before you get all giddy and excited, I would like to reiterate that a fairer complexion is only a possible side effect of this antioxidant, which is found in whey protein. Additionally, leading research suggests that amino acid supplementation (like whey protein) can help boost your immune system.
It helps regulate your mood.
As previously mentioned, the stress hormone cortisol is responsible for inhibiting muscle growth and formation. On top of limiting the secretion of this hormone, whey protein is also high in an essential amino acid that is present in many SSRI and mood stabilizer medications. Why? It is because it is used by the body to produce serotonin, the happy hormone. It’s pretty much the same way how a chocolate will lighten your mood, minus the sugar and calories.
It’s a convenient meal.
In this fast-paced world of independent women on the go, it’s hard to find time to prepare a post-gym meal. Having a protein shake at the ready is super convenient, because again, it helps you feel full, and prevents you from grabbing a takeout container on the go.
For women out there who want to build lean muscle and slim down, consider adding whey protein into your training regimen. It may not work for everyone, but ask your trainer if whey protein is right for you.