Consuming whey protein correctly can benefit teenage athletes for several reasons; to enhance muscle repair and growth, to intake enough protein, and improve overall performance in sport or exercise.
Before starting with whey protein, you need to know if it is safe to use, what to buy, and how to use it.
Keep reading to understand more about whey protein and help you decide if whey protein will be beneficial and safe to use.
What is Whey Protein?
Whey is a dairy by-product. It is the watery part of milk that is removed when cheesemaking. When you open a yoghurt lid, the watery bit on top is an example of whey protein that hasn’t been turned into a powder.
The watery part is removed and processed to turn into powder. This powder is then used to create different whey protein powders.
The most popular form of whey protein is flavoured powder to make protein shakes to consume after a workout. However, there is a range of different protein powders you can try.
You can also buy whey protein in the form of protein bars and pre-made snacks.
Whey is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids you need to build proteins in your body.
Whey protein is digested quickly, therefore a great way to consume extra protein after a workout; this will help your muscles heal faster and become stronger.
See also: what is whey protein powder
There are three main types of whey protein.
- Whey Protein Concentrate:
This type of protein is the most popular. Whey protein concentrate can contain anywhere between 30%-80% whey and has the most nutrients. This form of whey is the most affordable to purchase and a great place to start.
- Whey Protein Isolate:
Carbohydrates and fats have been removed from this form of whey, leaving a 90% whey protein in the powder. However, there are fewer nutrients and lower levels of lactose in whey protein isolate. If you have a dairy intolerance, this may be a better option for you.
- Whey Protein Hydrolysate:
This type of whey is pre-digested by enzymes that break down the protein into individual amino acids. The advantage of this is so the proteins can be absorbed faster into the body. Although, the disadvantage is that there is little evidence to say this improves performance over concentrate or isolate protein.
Why Should I Consume Whey Protein?
Teenage athletes need around 50-90 grams of protein per day to keep up with their physical activity. This amount does depend on your age, weight and height.
So, if you’re not getting this amount of protein through food alone, you could increase your protein intake using whey; nonetheless, before you spend a ton of money on whey protein, it’s essential to optimise your whole food diet first.
Once you understand your diet better, you may want to use whey protein for several reasons:
- To help with the repairing process of your muscles.
- If you struggle to intake enough protein from diet alone.
- To feel full after exercising and avoid feeling tired.
- If you are trying to bulk.
- To become stronger and achieve bigger muscles.
If the above relates to you, keep reading about whey protein’s possible negatives and benefits.
Negatives of Whey Protein for Teens
Before thinking about consuming whey protein, your diet needs to be enhanced first. Food is a super important element for someone who is more physically active than the average person since your body uses up your resources much quicker.
Whey protein shouldn’t replace protein in your diet; it is extra protein to help their muscle growth and overall performance.
However, there is a fine line for those eating enough protein in their diet AND adding extra protein through whey. The danger of consuming too much protein can affect the way teenage bodies develop.
A diet too high in protein can cause dehydration, weaker bones, liver and kidney problems. So, work out your daily intake and see if there is room for extra protein in your diet.
Too much protein can also cause unnecessary weight gain since extra calories from protein that are not used will be stored as fat in the body.
If you are lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy products, whey protein may cause nausea and bloat and make you feel generally unwell. However, you could try whey protein isolate to see if this makes a difference.
To summarise the negatives of whey protein for teenagers…
It is not good to replace natural protein sources with whey protein when you are a teenage athlete. This is because you need to have a healthy, nutritious diet first.
As a young athlete, learning what food you need to eat when training is a crucial aspect of learning. This is not to say you can progress onto extra protein from whey soon.
Whey protein should only then be used as an addition to your daily intake of protein.
Consuming too much whey protein can harm teenage bodies that are still growing. You may also develop an intolerance to the protein, causing you to feel unwell.
Benefits of Whey Protein for Teens
Whey protein would benefit underweight teenagers who need bulking, mainly because not having enough calories or nutrients can affect their performance during exercise.
It’s also a great way to take your training to the next level by helping to grow, strengthen and repair muscles.
Athletes need to have enough protein in their diet for their muscles to be healthy and strong. Without enough protein, the body will struggle to keep up with the volume of physical exercise, leading to weight and muscle loss, which is not the goal here.
Whey protein is a great place to start when thinking about adding extra nutrition to your diet.
You can begin by drinking protein shakes after a workout and see how you feel. You can find a range of different whey protein shakes available online or in stores. However, make sure you’re buying protein without any fillers or added extras; these may be harmful to you.
To summarise the benefits of whey protein for teenagers.
Consuming whey protein isn’t a scary thing. It is not bad for you when done correctly.
Whey protein can be very beneficial for teenage athletes looking to level up in their performance.
The best way to take whey protein as a teenager is to start with smaller amounts.
Ensure your diet is fully enhanced and keep track of the number of calories and protein you have.
Start with products that have a high whey protein concentrate and no extra fillers or additives. (So long as you are not intolerant to the ingredients).
Record how your body feels before and after using whey protein for the first couple of times. If you find you may be intolerant, you could try something else.
Finally, there is no danger in testing out whey protein.
Wrapping Up: Is Whey Protein Powder Safe for Teenage Athletes?
Whey protein is safe for teenage athletes who understand how to consume it and look after their bodies.
There is no need to worry when consuming whey protein, so long as it is done correctly and you have carefully chosen the right product for you and your body.
Teenage athletes should only consume whey protein if they struggle to get enough protein through diet alone and to help increase their exercise performance.
If you do not have enough protein, you may experience weight and muscle loss. You may also feel tired and not perform as well since your muscles are taking longer to repair.
The best way to use whey protein as a teenage athlete is to drink protein shakes after a workout. This will speed up your muscle repair process and help you feel fuller and satisfied after exercising.
Before buying whey protein, check the ingredients to ensure you are not allergic to anything and make sure you aren’t purchasing a product with added nasty bits. You can also read reviews to see what other athletes’ experiences have been with the product.
Start with smaller amounts and monitor how you feel before and afterwards. Doing this can rule out any intolerances you weren’t sure about. If you find you are intolerant to whey protein, there are other protein powders available.
Once you have tested small amounts of extra protein, you can increase your daily amount and even try different types of whey.
You could also have a go at including whey protein into some of your meals if you don’t like drinking shakes; for example, you could make pancakes.
I hope this article has been informative and helped you understand that whey protein is safe for teenage athletes when used correctly, followed by a high protein nutritious diet.