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Are you a fitness lover?
Then you probably do everything you can to stay fit from having a healthy diet to exercising daily.
And when we talk about a healthy diet, one of the most important nutrients is protein.
Protein is a must in a healthy diet. While protein intake helps you in many ways to stay healthy, it can affect your fertility too.
Many recent researches have found out the link between the protein diet and female fertility.
Want to know how?
We have the answer for you, but before we delve into its effect on fertility, you must know what whey protein is exactly.
1. What is whey protein?
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Protein builds immunity and produces enzymes and hormones.
It also builds muscle and tissue and balances the insulin level in the body which helps in weight loss.
Protein can be found in both plants and animals and can be consumed in different ways.
The protein that is found in the dairy products derived from the milk of animals is whey protein.
It contains a high level of amino acids.
It is a nutritious, safe and rich protein that can easily fulfil your protein requirement. (1)
2. What is the link betweenwhey protein and female fertility?
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Protein is a major nutrient that is needed by our body.
This need is enlarged when a woman is pregnant as they are producing a new life altogether.
Women need approximately 46 grams of protein every day, but when they are pregnant, their protein requirement may reach up to 80 grams per day.
Therefore, a protein-rich diet is vital for their good health.
Whey protein is a rich and biologically active protein source that best suits pregnant women’s protein requirements. (2)
Whey protein is available in the powdered form and therefore, it's easy to consume.
The consumption of whey protein has been linked to increased levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) in women, which is one of the signs of high fertility.
Although we must also tell you that a survey conducted on women found out that consumption of animal protein had adverse effects on their fertility, while plant-based protein proved to be less harmful to fertility in women. (3)
So, before taking the whey protein, you must always consult your doctor especially when you are trying to conceive so that you are sure that the protein powder would lead to infertility.
And also make sure that you take this protein in a balanced amount and do not overdo it as it can affect your health negatively.
3. Does whey protein affect male fertility?
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Yes, it does. Just as an excess of whey protein can affect female fertility, it has some effects on male fertility too.
While whey protein can help you build strong muscles and a macho body, it can lower your sperm count and make you infertile.
Scroll down to know! (1)
1. Whey protein contains harmful substances like anabolic steroids that affect the testosterone hormones.
Professor Robert McLachlan AM, an andrologist and medical director of health male conducted a research and found out that the disbalance of testosterone levels can reduce the brain’s drive to stimulate the testicals so that the sperms could be produced which ultimately leads to reduction in sperm count and shrinking of the testicals.
According to a 2019 study, when subfertile men avoid taking excessive protein, their sperm count increases significantly. (5)
2. Many whey protein powders also contain artificial sweeteners and added sugars that can lower the sperm count.
However, if your protein powder contains stevia, it’s a safer option as it is a natural sweetener.
However, many animal researchers have found the negative effects of stevia on male fertility. So make sure that you are taking it in a balanced amount.
3. The effect is not always negative, a study conducted by the University of South Australia proved that consuming high protein like whey protein and natural food rich in protein such as egg whites can increase testosterone in obese men and improve their fertility.
4. Overall, men should avoid taking a lot of whey protein supplements if they are trying to have a baby with their partner. Excessive protein may affect sperm quality and impact their fertility.
4. What kind of whey protein would be best for you?
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While there is plenty of whey protein powder available on the market, very few are the healthy options especially when it comes to fertility.
If you are trying to get pregnant and looking for a protein powder to buy, then you must keep these things in mind (4)
- Anabolic Steroids : Anabolic steroids are synthetic testosterone that can disbalance the testosterone levels in your body and decrease your sperm count and also affect its quality.
- Caffeine : The doctors recommend that during pregnancy, women should not have more than 200 mg of caffeine per day.
Some protein powder contains caffeine, so make sure that you buy the one which does not contain it while you are pregnant, especially if you already consume caffeine in other beverages like tea and coffee.
- Artificial sweeteners : According to a study, regular consumption of artificial sweeteners leads to a high risk of preterm birth.
As many protein powders contain artificial sweeteners instead of sugar, you must make sure that it is in moderation or natural sweetener so that it does not affect your fertility.
- Herbal additive : Some protein powder may contain herbal additives to make it healthier.
But not all herbs are healthy for fertility and pregnancy. Therefore, make sure that the protein supplement does not contain any herbs that are harmful to your fertility health or pregnancy.
5. Diets To Add Whey Protein For Fertility
1. Keto Diet
The keto diet, which is high in fat and low in carbohydrates, has been shown to improve fertility in women by regulating hormones and improving insulin sensitivity.
One way to support the keto diet and fertility is by incorporating whey protein into meals and snacks.
2. Plant-Based Diet
A plant-based diet has many benefits for the reproductive system, including greater antioxidant and nutrient support.
3. Gluten-free Diet
Since whey protein is a high-quality protein source that is naturally gluten-free, it makes an ideal option for individuals following a gluten-free diet for fertility.
6. Other Alternatives To Incorporate In Your Diet
If you aren't really sure whether you'd want to add whey protein to your fertility diet recipes, you can opt for these alternatives.
2. Add flaxseeds into your keto diet
4. Guava leaves
5. Papaya seeds
Apart from these, many women use black seed oil for fertility as well.
Please consult with your doctor for precise recommendations.
5. Word of caution
Even if you are making sure that your whey protein powder does not have any of the above ingredients, you must always consult your dietician or doctor before consuming any new supplement.
Share your protein preferences with your doctor/dietician/nutritionist and they might suggest the best way you can take it without harming your fertility or pregnancy.
6. Bottom line
While there are many health benefits of whey protein, it may not be very effective for your fertility and sometimes, can even affect it adversely.
It depends on what kind of whey protein you are taking, and whether it has all the properties necessary for healthy fertility or not as fertility is a very important part of our health.
Always cross-check the ingredients in your whey protein powder with the brand manufacturer so that you are completely sure of what you are consuming daily.