Ask the Doctor: Is whey protein increasing your body fat?

Ask the Doctor: Is whey protein increasing your body fat?

The importance of protein and why we should consider switching away from whey based protein powders.

There’s a lot of talk around protein. Questions like,

What is the best source? Who needs to take a protein supplement? Will protein supplements help me lose weight?

We decided to ask nutritional expert Dr Simone Laubscher, PhD and Jonathan ‘Jono’ Bush (Elle Macpherson’s personal trainer) about the importance of protein, who should be supplementing it into their lives and why we should consider switching away from the popular whey based protein powders. There are common health problems associated with whey, dairy and soy protein supplements, especially affecting digestion.


Unlike fat, protein is not stored and must be consumed regularly for optimal body function. It’s recommended that 10-20% of our daily intake should come from protein. Dr Laubscher explains that protein forms the building blocks of the human body. “It is in every part of us and the second largest component after water. The benefit goes beyond muscles; it is essential for tissue repair and growth, supports a healthy metabolism and promotes feeling full for longer. Without it, our metabolism become sluggish; we lack energy, give into our cravings and reach for the wrong foods.” 


Protein rich foods can help us to feel more full and satisfied so we are less likely to choose unhealthy foods during the day. After exercise, protein helps to deliver necessary nutrients to repair and replenish our muscles. “Modern living and an unbalanced diet means we often supplement protein intake with energy sources like caffeine, sugar, carbohydrates or saturated fats,” says Laubscher.


Whey protein is the watery portion of milk that separates from the curds when making cheese. A lot of protein supplements are created using whey, but even if you don’t stick to a plant based diet you might like to consider switching to a plant based protein supplement. There are common health problems associated with whey, dairy and soy protein supplements, especially affecting digestion. Dr Laubscher says that men in particular should reconsider their source because most whey protein powders are derived from non-organic cows milk, which contains oestrogen, a predominantly female hormone. “Too much of this in the male diet can have adverse effects including reduced libido, increased abdominal body fat as well as ‘moobs’ (man boobs).” Jono adds that he “knows so many guys out there who are using these cheap whey proteins to bulk up. From the outside everything’s fantastic; they looked ripped. But on the inside it’s causing their body long-term, damage.”