Whey protein, insulin, immune system, skin firmness and cellulite

Whey protein, your skin and your health

Whey protein is a vegetarian protein and by far the best protein you can use after weight training or even after cardiovascular training.

It is the highest biological quality protein you can have, as it contains all the essential aminoacids in a very absorbable form. In addition, because whey significantly boosts insulin, it further boosts its own absorption by muscle cells (insulin boosts the absorption of protein by muscle cells - that’s one of its functions).

Here we analyse everything related to whey protein and its impact on skin, muscle, fat tissue and the immune system.

Whey protein, insulin, immune system, muscle building, fat tissue and skin firmness: everything you need to know

  • Whey protein skin benefits

  • Whey, insulin and sedentary living

  • Whey protein diet

  • Excessive insulin

  • Does whey protein make you fat? 

  • Whey and immune system stimulation

  • Whey: the ultimate supplement for colds and flu 

  • Whey protein itself is not always innocent - what to look for when you buy a whey protein powder

  • Even the best whey protein in the world should be used in moderation

  • In summary

  • 60+ tips on how to boost skin tightening and reduce cellulite

Whey protein skin benefits

Most women today do not consume enough protein, because they were brainwashed for decades by “nutrition experts” and female magazine advice that “too much protein is bad for you” or that “humans need very little protein to build muscle and skin”. Try to say that to an athlete…

This misinformation and this lack of protein is the reason why so many women suffer from loose skin and cellulite these days: skin is made of protein and with a low protein diet the body uses up the protein stores in the skin and never replaces them.

So, for most women, the addition of whey protein in the diet is recommended after training, at a daily dosage of about 20-30 grams. This will ensure that both muscles and skin are replenished with all the necessary aminoacids they need for tissue repair, muscle growth and skin firming.

Furthermore, given that loose skin is a hallmark of cellulite, lack of protein is an important risk factor for cellulite - something which I have seen on countless of low protein-consuming clients at our cellulite clinic over the years.

Whey, insulin and sedentary living

However, although whey's stimulation of insulin production is a blessing after training, it may prove a curse if you are sedentary. This is because when you are sedentary and eat carbs or fat, excessive insulin stimulates the absorption of carbs and fat into the fat cells, leading to obesity and cellulite.

You may reduce the insulin-stimulating effect of whey by mixing it with fibre (such as chia seeds, flax seeds, oat fibre etc) and healthy fat (such as medium chain triglycerides from coconut oil - but NOT coconut oil per se), which will slow down it's digestion and the consequent insulin release. However, the total amount of excess insulin secreted will still remain the same, so this is not a perfect solution.

Whey protein diet

On the other hand, if you are sedentary but on a low carb/low fat diet, excessive insulin will lead to hypoglycemia, low energy and dizziness.

If you are on diet AND exercise at the same time, whey is an even worse idea, as it will further cause hypoglycemia and dizziness.

If you are on diet AND exercise and use stevia as a sweetener (a known hypoglycemic agent), hypoglycemia is almost guaranteed.

Excessive insulin

In general, excessive insulin production at any other time except after exercise is not a good thing for health, as it leads to obesity and is a risk factor for diabetes and cancer.

If you use whey after exercise, it is a good idea to include some carbs in your whey protein shake to avoid hypoglycemia caused by exercise and whey. And try to avoid stevia, as a sweetener.

does whey protein make you fat?

In summary, a high quality whey protein is ideal as a muscle-building, skin firming supplement, immediately after real vigorous exercise (BTW, most pilates and yoga classes do not qualify as vigorous exercise), together with some carbs (immediately after exercise is the best time to have carbs). Whey cannot make you fat if consumed after exercise or if you diet.

Conversely, whey protein is detrimental to your health, your fat stores and cellulite if it is taken when sedentary. Whey could theoretically make you fat if consumed when sedentary.


Whey and immune system stimulation

Whey protein is a great way to boost your protein intake and thereby ensure muscle tissue repair and growth and skin repair and firming (muscle and skin are made of protein).

However, whey is also a strong immune-stimulating food, which may be either beneficial or detrimental to health, depending on the quality of the product and how it is used.

Whey protein is an immune-stimulating protein as it contains many immune compounds. Most whey proteins that you can buy in "health food" and bodybuilding stores (probably 95% of the market) contain denatured (damaged) immune compounds, due to their harsh processing, such as cross-flow filtration, microfiltration, isolate filtration, hydrolysation and ion exchange.

Denatured immune compounds may irritate the immune system, causing intolerance reactions to sensitive people, which although mild in most cases, in the long run are detrimental to the immune system.

Whey: the ultimate supplement for colds and flu

On the other hand, pure undenatured whey protein is the best thing you can have if you have a cold or the flu, together with pure, undenatured colostrum, vitamin C and some glutamine. But this is material for another article…


Whey protein itself is not always innocent - what to look for when you buy a whey protein powder

For the reasons described above, it is essential to ensure that you buy pure, "native", non-denatured whey which is as close as to the original component of milk, as possible.

Of course, whey produced from organic or grass fed cows is preferred to that produced with industrial farming methods that include hormones, pesticides and other pollutants.

A real, pure whey protein provides:

  • immunoglobulins / IgG (including, among others, bovine serum albumin, alpha-lactalbumin and beta-lactoglobulins)

  • lactoferrin (which ensures proper iron supply into the cells that need it)

  • cysteine which is a precursor of glutathione, the most important antioxidant and detoxification factor in the human body.


Even the best whey protein in the world should be used in moderation

Because of it's powerful immune-stimulating effect, whey should not be used excessively or continuously without breaks. But even more importantly, denatured whey should not be used at all, as it can gradually lead to unwanted immune stimulation (intolerances, allergies, auto-immunity etc).

Personally I use 20g of whey every other morning, mixed with glutamine, high flavanol cocoa powder, vitamin D and other healthful compounds.

On the other hand, when I go to the gym, I always use a shake with a full dose of 40g of non-denatured whey protein. My favourite brand is Well Wisdom, which I have been using for years (I have absolutely no financial or other relation to that company or its distributors - this is my honest, unadulterated advice).


In summary

Pure, native, non-denatured protein is great as a protein supplement:

  • especially if used right after exercise

  • if it is not used in excessive amounts or without breaks

  • if it is not used while sedentary

Normal, cheap, denatured whey should not be consumed at all due to the damage of immunoglobulins contained in it during the manufacturing process.

Whey is also the best protein supplement you can use to maintain skin firmness and help prevent cellulite or help boost it if you have a good skin tightening/cellulite treatment - if used after training.

PS: if you have any immune condition, please consult with your healthcare practitioner before you use whey protein.

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Tighten up your skin and reduce cellulite

This entire website is dedicated to cellulite reduction and skin tightening, but a good starting point on how to tighten up your skin and beat cellulite is our 60+ tip guide on how to reduce cellulite:

You may also wish to check our highly concentrated cellulite creams:

You can also check our intensive cellulite treatments in London: