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Whey Protein isn't just for Bodybuilders
And it works too. If you're putting in the effort into the exercises (weightlifting or otherwise) then adding whey protein as a supplement to your regular diet will help bulk up the muscles you are using during the exercises - faster than you normally would on your regular diet.
What is Whey Protein? Its from whey (as in curds and whey), a milk product that is extremely high in protein. So if you're vegetarian you can use it just fine. (Vegans however won't because they don't use dairy products.)
Now you may have noticed up above that I said "exercises (weightlifting or otherwise)", meaning basically any kind of exercises. Including cardio. It does not have to be weightlifting.
Because during cardio exercises the two muscle groups you are using most is actually the lung and heart muscles. The lungs are bringing in oxygen, expelling CO2, and the heart is pumping freshly oxygenated blood to all your body parts.
So what happens to someone who is training for a marathon and they add whey protein as a supplement to their diet?
#1. Their lung muscles will become stronger, making it easier for them to breathe while under stress.
#2. Their heart will become stronger, enabling them to pump more blood quickly and easier.
#3. Their endurance will go up at a faster rate than the normal diet alone.
#4. The muscles they are using (in this case, leg muscles) will grow stronger too. They won't bulk up so much (quantity), but the individual muscle cells will become stronger (quality).
#5. Sore muscles after running will heal faster thanks to the extra protein.
Personal Example #1 - It is archery season right now and I am using whey protein as a supplement after particularly difficult days at the archery range so that I can both heal my back and shoulder muscles faster, and bulk them up faster so I can handle a heavier draw weight on my bow.
Personal Example #2 - I am also using whey protein after jogging every morning so my lungs, heart and leg muscles will grow faster - increasing my endurance and speed.
How Much Whey Protein Should You Use?
Honestly, you don't need to gobble it down in large doses.
If you read the packaging it recommends the maximum dosage. For example on Six Star Muscle Professional Whey Protein the maximum dosage is listed at "2 heaping scoops, 3 times daily". That is a huge amount and it is aimed at people who are bodybuilders who are doing weightlifting in the morning, the afternoon and again around 7 PM in the evening. They're weightlifting for multiple hours daily.
Chances are likely that is not you. Your goals are much more different.
Speaking for myself when I use whey protein I don't even use a full scoop most of the time. It is usually half a scoop or three quarters of a scoop. I use whey protein sparingly, and only when I need to because my regular diet is already reasonably high in protein.
So if you're into jogging and want to build your endurance faster, half a scoop after you finish jogging is enough for your needs.
Protein is also tied to higher brain functions. Your brain is a muscle after all. A balanced diet that makes certain you are getting all your vitamins, minerals and protein will also make you smarter. In contrast too much cholesterol (from a fatty diet) in your blood clogs up the arteries in your brain, making you slower at problem solving and interferes with mnemonic skills (slower at remembering things).
HOWEVER, in order for this to work you need to be doing brain exercises on a regular basis. Thus activities which work your memory skills, problem solving skills, math skills, etc are essentially exercises. Someone who does math for an hour every day and follows those math exercises by eating a healthy meal will ultimately be smarter at math than someone who doesn't exercise their brain and fails to eat a healthy meal.
Be Smart, Eat Healthy!
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