What is Whey Protein and is it suitable for bariatric patients?

What you need to know about Whey Protein

Whey protein is the liquid by-product produced during the curdling of milk. It is a complete protein source, which means that it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids. More so, whey protein is the base of many dairy products such as milk, cream and cheese. It also contains protein, lactose, minerals and a small amount of fat.

Milk consists of 80% casein and 20% whey. Athletes, fitness enthusiasts and other individuals use it as supplements. A sizable population of bariatric surgery patients also incorporate whey protein in their diets.

Types of whey protein

There are three types of whey protein. These include:

Whey Protein Concentrate 

This type is made through ultrafiltration of whey that contains <90% of protein concentration, and could go as low as 20%. The rest of the concentration is made up of fats, minerals and lactose.

Whey Protein Isolate

This is typically produced through a variety of filtration techniques and contains >90% of protein concentration and removal of most lactose.

Whey Protein Hydrolysates

This technique of whey protein production “pre-digests” the protein, thereby reducing the time for digestion and absorption of amino acids.

Why Whey protein is important

Proteins contain amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle tissue. Amino acids are responsible for important functions in your body such as:

  • Immune system function,
  • Metabolism,
  • Energy, and,
  • Neurotransmission

Furthermore, by taking whey protein, you get other benefits such as:

  • Your body will easily absorb and digest it.
  • It’s easy to add as a supplement to your diet, hence won’t complicate your meal planning.
  • It may be a good addition in your diet if you have insulin resistance as it has been shown to boost insulin sensitivity.
  • Taking whey protein will boost your metabolism and therefore enhance fat loss.

The concentrate and isolate both contain a high biological value. Biological value is a measurement used to assess the degree to which our bodies are able to utilize that protein efficiently.

Other sources of food that contain a high biological value include eggs, milk, cottage cheese and meats such as seafood, chicken and beef.

Side effects of taking whey protein

You can benefit from using whey protein supplements. However, it is important to note that tolerance is individualized. Further, if you are a bariatric patient, you should not take it without the guidance of a qualified dietitian.

Some of the side effects you might experience include:

  • Nausea,
  • Increased bowel movements,
  • Gas,
  • Allergic reactions,
  • Upset stomach.

In most cases, you can reduce these side effects by monitoring your total protein intake. More so, you should  consider an alternative supplement. For instance, try one that contains more digestive enzymes (i.e. Protizyme protein powder).

For bariatric patients, your total protein intake can range from 50-80 grams of protein per day. However, this depends on the surgical procedure you undergo. Before you add whey protein or any supplement to your diet, speak to one of the Registered Dietitians (RDs) from Tri-State Bariatrics for additional assistance.




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