So we here in Europe really do like making fun of our American brothers and sisters on the other side of the Atlantic for being, well, American. In our heads we have the stereotypical image of the individualistic, status conscious yet classless and most definitely quite obese and loud-mouthed stereotype. Especially the stereotypes about Americans being fat, we Europeans certainly do like rubbing it in their metaphorical faces about this; however did you know that Europeans are actually not much better?
Yes, it may surprise you to know that when it comes to obesity rates, Europe is only a couple of percentage points behind America; according to data released by the World Health Organization, in 2014, 59% of European adults were either overweight or obese, compared to 61% of American adults. Looks like we don’t have so much to brag about after all. Of course, we can take a little comfort that the fattest countries are Turkey, which has recently decided to torpedo its own chances of ever joining the European Union, and of course the United Kingdom, who recently decided that the European Union was not good enough for them and want to go their own way. Hopefully by doing this the overweight and obesity rates of the EU can be reduced.
Political ranting aside, we can see why health and fitness should be a major concern of all first-world nations out there. In the third world, the government is concerned with basic level needs such as proper general healthcare and infant mortality rates yet in developed countries we have all those yet the citizens are really some of the fattest around. In today’s article, I am going to talk about the importance of exercise and using the best supplement there is in the market today: the humble and underappreciated whey protein powder.
I’m just going to go ahead and skip most of the benefits of exercise, as telling people to exercise more by regaling them with all the benefits of exercise is equivalent to telling smokers to stop smoking by telling them about the health risks posed by smoking; it’s nothing they already don’t know. All I will say on this topic is that the WHO recommendation is 150 minutes (2.5 hours for those of you who are bad at math) of moderate to intensive physical activity each week, which is absolute nothing at all considering that there are 168 hours in a week.
No, today I want to highlight how whey protein can actually help in reducing obesity rates, regardless of whether you consume it in conjunction with a consistent exercise regime or not. That’s right, I’m referring to the benefits of whey protein as a standalone, separate from its well-documented synergistic effects with exercise. Yes, not many people know but whey protein is actually a powerful weapon in the fight against obesity; I shall elaborate further below.
First, if you increase the amount of protein in your diet while simultaneously reducing calories, such as in a weight loss plan, the higher amount of protein will allow you to better preserve your muscle mass while losing fat mass. Obviously this effect is more pronounced in conjunction with a regular exercise routine but even extra protein consumption by itself will have a significant albeit lesser effect.
Second, whey protein actually has an appetite suppression effect. In one study in Australia, where the study group was 28 obese males, they found that those in the group who had consumed about 50g of whey protein had much lower levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, which is called as such due to its role of sending hunger signals to the brain. Oh, and this effect lasted for as much as four hours! Truly impressive. So, even without an exercise regime, try replacing all your daily, mindless eating ‘snacks’, which let’s face it are most probably candy, chips, and other unhealthy stuff, with a nice tasty whey protein shake instead.
And finally, whey protein can help you reduce your stress levels as well, which as we know, is a significant risk factor for obesity. In Denmark, a study conducted of 58 people who underwent experimental stress (probably listening to a Justin Bieber album on repeat for hours), those in the study who had taken whey protein were discovered to have fewer depression symptoms and were just all around in a better mood. And don’t believe the ‘fat people are jolly’ myth; in my experience, they’re mostly self-hating and miserable.
So, to conclude, it’s time for us Europeans to start incorporating more whey protein in our diets. And if you’re worried about the cost, it may surprise you to know that whey protein is actually much cheaper than you might think; in fact, cheap whey protein powders are abundant.