Sports supplements have now been around quite some time that there is nearly a product for absolutely everything to improve a fighters performance. Fighters take supplements to boost their performance and to help aid with recovery as their training is extremely physically demanding.

Protein is a vital ingredient for muscle repair and growth, yet to consume enough consistently throughout the day with our busy lives can be tricky. Let’s face it, we don’t always have the time to cook a quick salmon fillet or a beef steak, so protein shakes have become a great way to get the extra protein and nutrition.

There are many different types of protein powder and one of the most popular is whey protein. When many think of whey protein powder they instantly associate it with weight lifting and body builders, but in fact it is used by athletes in all types of sports.

Is whey protein good for fighters?

Absolutely.

Whey protein certainly ticks all the boxes for a fighter as it is high in protein, low in calories and easily digestable, that it can be consumed anytime of the day.

So, what is whey protein?

Have you ever heard of curds and whey? Well, the nursery rhyme Little Miss Muffett may jog your memory.

“Little miss Muffet she sat on her tuffet, eating her curds eating and whey. Along came a spider who sat down beside her and frightened miss Muffet away”

Still confused?

Curds and whey is actually the process of making cheese. When rennet, which is an enzyme is added to milk it makes it curdle. These solid, curdled lumps are the Curds. The liquid is the byproduct of the curdling process and is the Whey.

Making whey protein

The liquid form of whey is sent for purification to remove any fats, carbohydrates, water and minerals before going to a protein manufacturing plant. This process produces whey protein concentrate (WPC).

The whey concentration goes for further purification and is loaded into a huge web of stainless steel turbines that have special ceramic filters. The whey protein liquid is put into a dryer that has hot as well as cold air to dry out the liquid and to separate the solids from the liquid. Some whey powders can remain plain in flavour, however most wheys have flavourings added so they are more enjoyable as a tasteful shake. The end result can have around 90% of pure whey protein depending on the flavour and additives.

Check out the infographics below of how whey is made:

How Whey Protein is Made
Source: https://us.myprotein.com/thezone/supplements/how-is-whey-protein-made/

When take Whey protein?

Whey protein shakes can be consumed anytime of the day as an added nutritional supplement or as a meal replacement. The most recommended time to drink a whey protein shake is soon after exercise. However, fighters putting themselves through vigorous training can benefit from taking whey protein either immediately before or after a workout.

This is because during exercise your muscles fibers break down and this short window your body most benefits for recovery and muscle mass growth. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, consuming protein any time up to two hours after your workout is ideal for building muscle mass. Whey protein is very safe to take as long as it is consumed within the guidelines.

The worst dangers of taking too much whey protein are stomach pains and cramps, yet a more mild side effect and also embarrassing is protein farts. Even though there is no scientific evidence that a high-protein diet causes more flatulence, many people who regularly drink protein shakes, claim it can certainly make their farts have more of an unpleasant smell.

The most important thing for a fighter to take in to consideration before buying whey protein is their weight. A fighters weight is a crucial part of the sport, and it needs to be controlled and maintained to stay in their most natural weight class. In order to maintain body weight, it comes down to the amount of calories consumed per day. By adding extra food to a daily diet could only make a fighter top the scales. However, if a fighter is able to afford to gain some weight in their division or is thinking of jumping up a weight class, gaining some muscle mass could do them a world of good.

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Whey protein for muscle growth

To gain muscle mass it is a combination of a few factors: how hard the muscles are trained, the amount of protein consumed, and the amount of calories consumed every day. Ideally, you want to have 300-500 more calories than you have burned per day. This obviously can be tricky to know exactly the correct amount right away, so its good to keep an eye on and increase or decrease your food accordingly.

Diet Whey for weight cutting

Fighters cutting weight effectively is a crucial part of the sport, it can literally make or break a fighters performance. In the early stages of a fight camp, a fighter will gain some weight to build on strength. Then as their fight comes closer the fighter will start to lose weight and cut fat. They do this so they are faster, stronger and the heaviest they can be in a lighter weight class, except for the heavyweight division.

When the fighter is near the end of their camp, this is when a cleaner reduced calorie diet comes in to play, yet still high in protein to keep as much strength as possible. This is when whey protein shake could replace a daily meal. Read our article ‘Why do fighters cut weight’ here.

What are the best brands for whey protein?

Holland and Barrett is always a great high street store to visit for protein powders and usually with regular deals. Some of best leading protein brands are MyProtein, Relex Nutrition, Bulk and Optimum to name a few, but a lot is a personal preference on the flavour.

Can you buy Vegan Whey?

As whey is derived from cows milk, it is not suitable for vegans. However, there are new vegan protein powders available made from a blend of pea and beans. Even though they don’t deliver as high protein quantity as whey, vegan protein still boasts of around 70% of pure protein.

Final thoughts 

Whey protein is great as the extra protein will increase muscle mass and strength. It is also brilliant to encourage losing weight, as not only can it be used to replace meals, but the protein will make you feel fuller for longer. As you can see, whey protein is a fantastic natural product with many benefits and in some delicious flavours too.

What is your favourite flavour?