Truth about Whey Protein: Natural Budget Alternatives for Strong Muscles

Do You Really Need Expensive Protein Shakes to Build Muscles After Workouts?
Andrew Wulf
Mar 14, 2011

I’m sure you’ve seen commercials for them. Hulk-like men and women guzzling down protein shakes claiming they are the key to success. I see it almost every day at the gym and with friends, but are these expensive powders really worth the high price tag? Do they truly make the difference to provide the success they claim, to put is simply, don’t waste your money. Now that’s not to say that these supplements don’t have their benefits. Many of them have added vitamins and minerals to aid an active lifestyle. However everything found within these shakes, powders, and supplements can be provided by a healthy diet.

Unless you have a protein deficiency caused from a disorder or excessive exercise, typically over doing Olympic style heavy lifting or extremely long distance running, there is no need for protein supplementation. Most Americans have way too much protein in their diets as it is. The real key is eating good, healthy, and complete proteins. I will discuss what these are and where to find them shortly.

Natural budget protein alternatives can build muscles.

Of course if you are one of the minority that has a deficiency or disorder protein supplementation is the way to go. However a physician or nutrition professional should always be consulted. Once the recommendation has been given many ask themselves what/which to use. The major difference between these supplements is the type of protein found within. The two most widely available are whey and casein protein products. Both of these proteins are found in milk. The protein found in cows’ milk is about 80% casein and 20% whey.

So what’s the difference between the two? Well casein has all nine essential amino acids, where as whey doesn’t. You see when protein is digested and absorbed by the body in nearly every case the molecules are broken down into amino acid chains, these amino acids are then absorbed by the body in various routes. The nine essential amino acids are those the body itself cannot create using other ingredients. These nine must be absorbed in their true form and cannot be produced from their components by our bodies. Therefore whey may be a little cheaper, but it’s for a reason. Also whey is the byproduct of turning milk into cheese, the casein is used up, but the whey is left over.

So where can I find the right protein? Well most animal products contain the essential amino acids. Foods such as lean fish, salmon, tuna, and cod are all great sources. Red meat is a good source and has a lot of iron, but tends to have a lot of fat with it. Poultry is another great source; lean skinless chicken and turkey are widely available and great! Eggs are great as well, only try to limit the amount of yolks you eat a day; one egg yolk has all the cholesterol needed for the day. It is possible and even more important for vegetarians to get good protein. One source can be found by combining brown rice, corn, and black beans as seen in much of the Hispanic cuisine. Another great source is tree nuts, cashews, peanuts, almonds, pistachios, and Brazil nuts are great. Yogurt can be a good source as well, but try to limit it and avoid yogurt with lots of added preservatives and sugars. If you have a sweet tooth try adding fresh fruit to it for taste. Obviously as mentioned before milk is a wonderful source, mammals grow their babies with it for goodness sakes. Just keep it to low-fat milk, skim or one percent max. It has even been proven that chocolate milk is one of the best if not the best post workout recover drink. For more information on the science behind this just google chocolate milk post workout. And all these alternatives are budget-friendly!

For more help creating a healthy meal plan associated with the rigors of a new exercise routine or just eating healthier, use the government’s help. is a great free tool provided to us from our own Department of Agriculture. You can have a meal plan basically tailored to your specific situation for free, breaking the food groups up into daily and weekly consumptions. You even have to ability to search for food products you eat and see how much of what nutrients you are getting per serving, how much a serving is, and how these change based upon how the foods are prepared. It really makes reading a nutrition label easy for those who have a difficult time with it.

Now that you know the truth about protein use the free tools provided to you by our government and start eating the right way!

(Andrew has been running distance for 7 years now since he started running cross country in high school. He is currently studying ‘Nutrition and Fitness’ as well as ‘Psychology’ at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He runs 5k and 10k races whenever he can and he has also run a sprint triathlon.)

5 Responses to “Truth about Whey Protein: Natural Budget Alternatives for Strong Muscles”

  1. Hannah Alexander July 5, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Actually milk is NOT a good source for humans after infant years…we are the only mammals to drink milk into our adulthood. Not to mention, that cows are pumped with antibiotics and hormones which affect our health also. The myfoodpyramid is not a good “source” either…the gluten/grains are actually what we consume TOO much of in society and not enough people eat their veggies and proteins. I think this author needs to finish school before writing articles that affect the health of others.

  2. Thanks for your comment. I agree that there is a lot of controversy around dairy products. I also agree that myfoodpyramid is influenced by politics and not a good source for your health (balanced diet pyramid from Harvard university is a better source). The author simply wanted to make a point that whey protein is worse than drinking milk and buying expensive protein shakes is a waste of money.

  3. As a Nursing student, I agree that regular milk does contain antibiotics and hormones which are not good for our body. I do however disagree that milk is not a good source of nutrients. I buy organic milk which I find to be much better. Since I don’t like yogurt or cheese, I find milk to be my only way of getting the dairy I need.

  4. Thing is you don’t “need” dairy at all. In fact going without it can have a tremendous positive effect on your body and overall health. I and my entire family went off milk a long time ago. We are not protein deficient in the least. The truth is the average body builder needs only a few grams more protein than the average person-like 4 or 5 grams more. Past getting adequate nutrition from your diet, building muscle comes down to two basic things- physical output and calorie consumption. If you think protein shakes helps you build muscle then you are partly right. But it’s not the protein as much as it is the added calories that help. The whole gram of protein per lb of body weight bit is a absolute myth. In fact any protein you consume past what your body truly needs (60-70g per day for the average man) is converted by your body into sugar basically so that you body can use it for energy-calories which your body can more easily derive from plant and carbohydrate based foods. Yes, protein is an important nutrient but most Americans consume way to much of it and most get it from sources that are the leading cause of the #1 killer in America-heart disease. To learn the truth about protein watch the documentary called Forks Over Knives found on net flicks.

  5. I think the overall message here is clear: we don’t need protein powders to get fit and build muscle. I like how the author lists many sources of healthy protein. The chocolate milk tip may not be as great as it sounds, but there is a lot of mention of very healthy foods.