Tag Archives: whey protein

Whey Protein | The Paleo Diet

Hello Dr. Cordain,

In your book The Paleo Answer you discuss how dairy products increase the insulin response in the body.

Do whey protein shakes do the same?

Thank you in advance,

Larry

Dr. Cordain’s Response:

Hi Larry,

Indeed whey protein is one of the key factors along with lactose in dairy products that likely causes insulin resistance. Two very recent studies show that whey protein consumed by body builders and athletes causes acne (see the citations and abstracts below).

Simonart T. Acne and Whey Protein Supplementation among Bodybuilders. Dermatology. 2012;225(3):256-8.

Abstract

Accumulative evidence supports the role of nutritional factors in acne. I report here 5 healthy male adult patients developing acne after the consumption of whey protein, a favorite supplement of those engaged in bodybuilding. These observations are in line with biochemical and epidemiological data supporting the effects of milk and dairy products as enhancers of insulin/insulin-like growth factor 1 signaling and acne aggravation. Further prospective studies are required to determine the possible role of dietary supplements in the fitness and bodybuilding environment.

Silverberg NB. Whey protein precipitating moderate to severe acne flares in 5 teenaged athletes. Cutis. 2012 Aug;90(2):70-2.

Abstract

Acne vulgaris has been linked to milk ingestion, both whole and skim milk. The milk fraction that promotes acne is unknown. Five case reports are presented of male patients aged 14 to 18 years who experienced onset of acne shortly after initiation of whey protein supplementation; 3 teenagers used the supplement for muscle building in football training and the other 2 for attempting to gain weight. All 5 patients had poor response to acne treatment regimens of oral antibiotics, topical retinoids, and benzoyl peroxide. Lesions fully cleared in 4 patients after discontinuation of whey protein supplementation, but 1 patient’s acne flared after reinitiation of the whey protein supplement. Two patients did not immediately discontinue whey protein supplementation; 1 of them cleared after he discontinued whey protein during his second course of isotretinoin and 1 was lost to follow-up. Among these patients, at least 6 different brands of whey protein supplementation had been used, including whey protein shakes and reconstituted powders. Whey protein may be the fraction of dairy products that promote acne formation. Larger studies are needed to determine the mechanism of comedogenesis.

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

Adverse Effects of Whey Protein | The Paleo Diet

Dear Dr. Cordain,

Could you please provide some details on the benefits/detriments of whey protein supplementation? I am a weight trainer/powerlifter and supplement with whey protein, which is currently touted as the best/most health-conscious choice there is. I have read in your newsletter about the inflammatory aspects of dairy products – is whey protein included in this? Is it better or worse than other dairy products?

Many people interested in the Paleo Diet who are also into strength training and fitness would be interested in your thoughts on this. Any pointers re: inflammation and supplementation of protein would be very well received. Thank you, in advance.

Best regards,
Karl

Dr. Cordain’s Response:

Dear Karl,

Unfortunately, at this point, most of the research has focused on the beneficial effects of whey. It basically revolves around whey’s high BCAA content, its use as a post-workout recovery drink ingredient, and its capacity – due to cysteine – to increase Glutathione, a powerful endogenous antioxidant enzyme.

Nevertheless, we believe that whey protein can have some potential adverse effects, because it greatly elevates insulinemia – although it can be therapeutic for diabetics in the short term. We suspect that whey protein could be detrimental long term, as hyperinsulinemia can down-regulate the insulin receptor and lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance underlies the Metabolic Syndrome, and is implicated in various other diseases, such as Acne, Alzheimer, various cancers, Coronary Heart Disease, Myopia, PCOS, etc.).

But to be completely sure, we would need intervention studies with whey protein with a relatively long duration in people genetically prone to insulin resistance, or who are in fact insulin resistant.

Also, there is the matter of hormones in milk: estrogens, DHT precursors, Insulin, IGF-1 and the hormone Betacellulin (BTC), which Dr. Cordain has discussed in a previous edition of this newsletter. These are some of the possible mechanisms for which there is repeated epidemiological evidence associating milk consumption with some cancers – especially Prostate Cancer.

We know that these hormones are present in milk and – in the case of BTC – it is present in whey too. Nevertheless, the real content of all these hormones in commercial milk-derived products is an open question that deserves proper and urgent study. So while we don’t know for sure, and since and we have alternatives, I would follow the old saying: do no harm!

Finally, if you have an auto-immune disease or allergy to Beta Lacto Globulin (protein that exists in bovine milk, but nonexistent in human milk) I would stay away from whey. Whey contains not only Beta Lacto Globulin, but also Bovine Serum Albumin. Some peptides from this protein have structural homology with peptides from our own tissues, and BSA has been implicated in Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Type 1 Diabetes.

In conclusion, I would follow the evolutionary template until all these issues are resolved. which states that recently introduced foods may have potential adverse effects to humans, especially long term. Non-human milk was only introduced in the human diet ~10,000 years ago. Therefore, given the potential health hazards of milk that science is revealing, I would use another protein source. Lean meat and seafood are very good sources of BCAA. If you want a protein drink immediately after strength training to speed recovery and increase muscle mass, I would suggest ~9 grams of essential amino acids, along with a banana.

I hope this helps.

Cordially,
Pedro Bastos

Editor’s note: the following blog posts also discuss whey protein:

Q: I started the program and I was wondering if Whey Protein or protein powder in general is against the diet?

Q: I like drinking protein shakes in the morning, but I noticed some of the protein sources in my protein shake are made from milk or dairy products. Is there an alternative that is available in the market place?

Q: I am just trying to figure out your feelings and thoughts on protein powders.

Additional reading: Hyperinsulinemic diseases: more than just Syndrome X.

 

 

Non-Dairy Protein Shakes | The Paleo Diet

I like drinking protein shakes in the morning, but I noticed some of the protein sources in my protein is made from milk or dairy products. Is there any non-dairy protein shakes available in the market place?

Thanks,
John-Michael

Maelán Fontes’ Response:

Dear John-Michael,

Yes, egg white protein powder is a better option than whey protein. Whey is a good source of casein and IGF-1, two insulinogenic (they increase pancreas insulin release) peptides that may lead to hyperinsulinemia which is at the root of many chronic degenerative diseases as shown in Dr. Cordain’s scientific paper: “Hyperinsulinemic diseases: more than just syndrome X”

However, if you suffer from an autoimmune disease you may want to reduce egg whites until your symptoms improve. Lean meats and fish are good sources of proteins and particularly of branched chain amino acids which increase muscle growth.

I hope this helps.

Maelán Fontes, MS, Ph.D., Candidate in Medical Sciences at Lund University, Sweden; International College of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine

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