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Whey protein helps build muscle

A man has a large,
and muscular body. A woman has a sculptured waist and firm contours. They did not get this way by accident. Instead they drank whey protein. But how much each day? I try to discover their secrets.

Tip:Proven effective, whey helps people gain muscle mass faster than other forms of protein.

Recommended dosage:3 to 6 scoops (20 g per scoop) per day. Scientific studies have used more with success. Scoops vary in size.


Muscle pictures, pecs, arms

The best amount of whey protein depends on several factors. These include your activity level, body size and composition, and metabolism.
For every person,
the amount will need to be changed
and adjusted.

For weight lifters it is often advised to consume one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. This corresponds to 0.45 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. Taking this into account, I developed this table.

Next:The table shows how much protein you should eat each day based on your bodyweight.

Pounds, kilograms and grams protein

100 pounds (45 kg) = 100 grams protein
110 pounds (50 kg) = 110 grams protein
120 pounds (54 kg) = 120 grams protein
130 pounds (59 kg) = 130 grams protein
140 pounds (64 kg) = 140 grams protein
150 pounds (68 kg) = 150 grams protein
160 pounds (73 kg) = 160 grams protein
170 pounds (77 kg) = 170 grams protein
180 pounds (82 kg) = 180 grams protein
190 pounds (86 kg) = 190 grams protein
200 pounds (91 kg) = 200 grams protein
210 pounds (95 kg) = 210 grams protein
Cow on grassy field

Next, I figured out what percentage of the total grams of protein you need to consume to build muscle should be whey protein. I came up with a very rough estimate. About half of your daily protein could come from whey protein.

Tip:Whey protein is highly bioavailable. Therefore, it is actually a better protein than other incomplete proteins such as beans.


Muscular male athlete in training

This following table estimates the grams of whey protein based on weight. It also converts that to servings. These estimates are useful for physically active men and women who lift weights. It assumes you have no major diseases.

The chart assumes one scoop of whey contains 20 grams of protein. Whey protein contains several grams of things other than protein. It is not pure protein. I round up on the scoops per day.

So:It is probably better to use a little more than necessary if you aim to gain muscle mass.

Chart of pounds and kilograms to whey protein scoops per day

100 pounds (45 kg) =  50 grams whey protein (3 scoops per day)
110 pounds (50 kg) =  55 grams whey protein (3 scoops per day)
120 pounds (54 kg) =  60 grams whey protein (3 scoops per day)
130 pounds (59 kg) =  65 grams whey protein (4 scoops per day)
140 pounds (64 kg) =  70 grams whey protein (4 scoops per day)
150 pounds (68 kg) =  75 grams whey protein (4 scoops per day)
160 pounds (73 kg) =  80 grams whey protein (4 scoops per day)
170 pounds (77 kg) =  85 grams whey protein (5 scoops per day)
180 pounds (82 kg) =  90 grams whey protein (5 scoops per day)
190 pounds (86 kg) =  95 grams whey protein (5 scoops per day)
200 pounds (91 kg) = 100 grams whey protein (5 scoops per day)
210 pounds (95 kg) = 105 grams whey protein (6 scoops per day)
Caution: exclamation mark

Too much? I have received some comments about the plan requiring too much whey protein. I do not think this is unhealthy. In fact, studies that have used whey protein to demonstrate muscle mass gains have used even more.

And:In another study described on this site, about 0.70 grams of whey protein per pound of body weight per day were used.

The plan uses only 0.5 grams of whey protein per pound of body weight per day. This is fairly conservative. The bodybuilders who used about this much whey protein in the study gained 11 pounds (5 kilograms) of lean mass over ten weeks.


Muscular man flexing triceps

I review the scientific evidence for whey protein. Has whey protein (as in protein shakes) been shown to increase muscle mass in a medical study? In one study, whey protein resulted in strength gains.

13 recreational bodybuilders in Australia were tested. One group of bodybuilders used whey protein supplements. Another group used casein protein supplements. Strength, lean body mass and blood levels were measured after ten weeks.

The effect of whey isolate and resistance training

Whey protein:Men gained 5 kg of lean mass (11 pounds). Men lost 1.5 of fat (3.3 pounds). Men became significantly stronger.

Casein protein:Men gained 0.8 kg of lean mass (1.7 pounds). Men gained 0.2 kg of fat (0.4 pounds).

The bodybuilders who used whey protein supplements gained almost ten more pounds of muscle weight. They also lost, rather than gained, fat. I bet the bodybuilders who were assigned the casein group were unhappy about this.

Over 80 percent of the muscle gains in the weightlifters were attributed to the whey. In the lifters who gained 11 pounds of muscle because of whey, about 9.3 pounds of that were because of whey.

So:Whey protein supplements are part of a weight training, muscle-mass building diet. They are also important in a fat-loss diet.

Barbell loaded with weight plates


Research results

Whey has a high level of bioavailability. Your body can easily absorb it. Whey is derived from milk. It is processed to be even easier to absorb. We look at the textbook Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food—page 180.

If a food is a complete protein source and its protein is bioavailable, it is a high-quality protein source. In general, animal-derived foods are sources of high-quality protein, and foods containing incomplete proteins... are low-quality protein sources.

Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food

Whey protein is so effective because it is an animal-derived food. It has high bioavailability. Whey, like eggs and milk, is good for jump-starting protein synthesis in your body. This leads to increased muscle mass.

And:Protein from plants is less effective unless you take steps to make it more bioavailable, as with amino acid supplements.


Muscle man wearing jeans

I always want to know whether foods I eat are good for me. I have been drinking protein shakes to build muscle mass and gain strength. Is whey protein healthy? Or will it cause me to turn green?

Many foods are good for you in moderation. Whey protein is one of these foods. It is something you should not use in great excess. But that advice stands for everything. Excess protein can cause problems if you have kidney disease.

And:Excess protein—as opposed to a normal high protein diet—is not recommended.


Whey protein helps people gain muscle mass. To the extent that muscle mass is healthy, whey protein is healthy. In research, trainees using whey protein isolate gained more muscle mass than those using casein.

The [whey isolate] group achieved a significantly greater gain (P < 0.01) in lean mass than the [casein] group.... The effect of whey isolate and resistance training


Muscular man reading a book: bodybuilder education

Next, I point out some medical research regarding certain medical patients. These patients are unable to build muscle on normal diets. With a special diet including whey protein, these patients could build muscle.

In cancer patients, conventional nutritional supplementation is ineffective in stimulating muscle protein synthesis. This anabolic resistance can be overcome with a specially formulated nutritional supplement.

Muscle protein synthesis



Whey protein is used to treat the effects of disease. It is also used to increase muscle mass in healthy people. It is well-known by doctors. Caution should be used before initiating whey protein supplements.

Usually:A moderate amount of whey protein is a safe choice. It is good for your body and health.



Is whey protein superior to soy protein for people lifting weights? It is known that soy protein can reduce your testosterone levels. But one study found that this does not impact the results of a 3-month weight training program.

Evidence suggests an inverse relationship between soy protein intake and serum concentrations of male sex hormones.

Effect of protein source and resistance trainingNote

In the study, 20 men were assigned to groups that supplemented with soy, whey protein or a combination of the two. After 12 weeks of bodybuilding workouts, no differences in the amount of muscle gained were found for the groups.

This investigation shows that 12 week supplementation with soy protein does not decrease serum testosterone or inhibit lean body mass changes in subjects engaged in a resistance exercise program. Effect of protein source and resistance training

This evidence suggests that whey protein may not be much more effective than other protein sources in the short-term. As a bodybuilder, using soy protein instead of whey protein in the short term will not diminish your success.

Testosterone, Lifting


Strong and healthy: tips

Protein powder contains come with scoops included. Different brands contain different shapes of scoops. The easiest way to get a protein scoop is to buy a new container of protein powder.

Next:This section offers information about protein scoops, which are often about one third cup.

Digging out the scoop. This is my favorite part of buying new protein powder. The scoop can be hard to dig out. I feel like I ought to wear gloves because otherwise I would contaminate the protein powder.

"Where is that thing?"
It must be somewhere down at the bottom.
"Great—there's now protein powder everywhere."

Scoop size. I thought I would list some information about protein scoop sizes. The current brand of whey protein is CytoSport Complete. This is the information it lists about its protein scoop on the Nutrition Facts.

Serving Size 27g (approx 1 scoop)
...So a protein scoop is approximately 27 grams of protein powder.


Strong chest in shadow

To make things simpler on myself, I did a little experiment. I filled the protein scoop with water and poured it into a measuring cup. I found that the scoop is equal to exactly 1/3 cup.

Rounded scoops? There is an additional issue regarding protein scoops.
Some brands,
including Optimum Nutrition,
specify rounded scoops. The scoop is an inaccurate measurement. It cannot be converted to cups for that brand.

So:A scoop, in these brands of protein powder, depends on the roundness of your serving. This is not scientifically rigorous.


Dollar signs

Many bodybuilders are young. They do not have a lot of money to spend on supplements. I calculated how much the whey protein guidelines in this document would cost on a daily and monthly basis.

10 pounds of whey protein. At Amazon you can buy 10 pounds of high-quality whey protein for about $100. This contains 4535 grams of protein powder. Each serving contains 24 grams of protein and there are about 170 servings in a container.

So:At five scoops a day, this will last you for 34 days—around one month. This will cost about $3 per day (as of 2014).

Optimum Nutrition

There are many brands of protein available in the United States. If you are starting out, I recommend a smaller container (such as a 2-pound container). If one brand makes you sick, try a different one. Don't assume they are all bad.

Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard:This is a popular whey protein available in the United States. It mixes well and is smooth.

Optimum Nutrition Flavors

ON 100% Whey Gold Standard Natural Way:This is the same as Gold Standard but has no artificial flavors or sweeteners.

ON 100% Any Whey Instantized Whey Protein:This whey product has no flavoring. It is a good supplement if you like to cook.

ON Platinum Hydro Whey:This whey product is further processed. Some users with lactose intolerance report it causes less discomfort.


Muscle pictures, arms

Another manufacturer of whey protein is CytoSport. I particularly like the Muscle Milk product. The powdered form is available online and it actually tastes good—better than most other kinds.

CytoSport Muscle Milk:I enjoy drinking CytoSport Muscle Milk. It is closer to a meal-replacement shake than whey protein.

Muscle Milk

CytoSport Complete Whey Protein:This is another whey protein. It is whey protein concentrate, which means it is harder to mix.


Letters A, B and C

Whey protein is a profitable business. For this reason you have lots of selection. In general the more you spend, the better the quality. There are some exceptions—I like the MRM brand whey protein. It mixes well and is easy to drink.

Twinlab 100% Whey Protein Fuel:This is another high-quality brand. The product is very similar to Optimum Nutrition whey.

Jillian Michaels Natural Whey Protein:This is a quality protein supplement. But you are paying for the Jillian Michaels name and brand.

Dymatize Nutrition Elite Whey Protein Powder:This protein has no aspartame. It is an isolate, not a concentrate, which makes it mix well.

Body Fortress Super Advanced Whey Protein:I have seen this product sold at Walmart stores. It is an average whey protein.

MRM All Natural Whey:One advantage to this product is that it has no artificial sweeteners. I have enjoyed MRM products in the past.

Jarrow Formulas Whey Protein:This is a whey concentrate. I found it is harder to mix. Its price is a benefit.

GNC Pro Performance AMP 100% Whey Protein:I like GNC whey protein. It is similar to Optimum Nutrition whey in its quality.


Heartburn is often caused by GERD

A whey protein shake can sometimes cause heartburn. This can be caused by the milk or a sweetener in the whey protein. This problem can be eliminated by figuring out the offending ingredient.

Protein and Heartburn

Also:Sometimes bodybuilders consume too much food, and this causes abdominal pressure. This in turn causes heartburn.

So:Despite your desire for a larger body with more muscle mass, eating less food at a time is advisable.


Clean protein shaker

When you start using protein shakes, you may encounter some problems. When I started, I found a nasty smell is common. It sometimes helps to refrigerate protein shakes. This makes the shake last longer.

Clean Protein CupsStore Protein Cups in Fridge



Never attempt to microwave or heat a protein shake. This never ends well. Whey protein will not mix in warm or hot water or milk. It will clump together. You will probably have to throw the mixture out.

So:Don't imagine that a whey protein shake is like hot chocolate. It is not. It is meant to improve your health, not taste good.


Beans, beans, eat beans

A whey protein shake has no fiber in it. So if you are having a problem with diarrhea, do not expect whey protein to help matters. Try using some Metamucil or eating more bran or beans.

Metamucil:This is a good supplement to use along with whey protein. It will help you form solid stools.

Beans:These contain lots of fiber. They are a good bodybuilding food and can be consumed along with whey.


Oats:These are a great standby bodybuilding food. They help with bowel issues and also have some less bioavailable protein.


BCAA, branched-chain amino acids: for protein synthesis

One benefit to whey protein powders is that they contain branched-chain amino acids—BCAA. These are essential to building muscle. If you consume enough whey protein, you will not need to take separate BCAA supplements.

But:If you reduce your whey protein amount, it is worthwhile to supplement your diet with BCAA powder or capsules.

BCAADaily multivitamin supplement for young men

Supplements help build muscle. For most lifters a multivitamin is sufficient. Creatine is perhaps the most effective supplement other than protein. Medications too have an effect on muscle growth. This is usually a negative one.

Apple Cider VinegarArginineChocolateChromiumCLACreatineFenugreekFish OilGarlicGinsengGlutamineMultivitaminZinc

Casein:Another popular kind of protein for bodybuilders is casein. This is found in milk and cheese.



Whey protein has been heavily researched. And it is heavily beneficial, not just to bodybuilders and muscle men, but to people who have serious diseases. An ideal amount depends on body weight, activity level and genetic factors.