Whey is a natural byproduct of cow’s milk, and, in powdered form, one of the most popular fitness supplements available. There’s nothing inherently risky about whey protein by itself. Like all proteins, whey protein is made of building blocks called amino acids. Protein in the body is primarily used for muscle growth and to repair tissues. When people digest food, they break down the proteins into amino acids and then use those amino acids to build new proteins.
When you exercise and perform resistance training, you create tiny micro-tears in your muscles. When you consume protein, your body breaks it down into basic units called the amino acids and uses those amino acids to repair the tears. They surround and fill the tear, and make it bigger and stronger. Your muscles need to recover and muscles turn to protein to repair and recover. Eating too little protein will not give muscles enough nutrients and will prolong the recovery and muscle building phase.
An average adult requires anywhere from 1 to 1.5g of protein per pound of body weight. Consuming quality sources of protein will aid in muscle growth only if it is paired with good exercise. You can take whey protein without working out, but it won't magically make you build muscle mass and give you muscular definition. Muscle growth only happens when the muscle has been subject to work. Whey protein works like any other source of protein, but the bio availability in whey protein is very high. The bio-availability of whey protein concentrate measures 104; whereas, the bio-availability of whey protein isolate measures as high as 159. Most natural whole foods cannot meet this level of bio-availability.
As the name suggests, Whey is just a supplement. Meaning that it should be used as an additive to your diet to enhance it. If you're having trouble getting enough protein in your diet, a supplement could help. Depending only on Whey and other such supplements for your protein needs is not advisable. A balanced diet is the most important thing, fulfilling your protein needs from whole foods should be your primary goal, supplements should only be used sparsely. Most people who live a sedentary life shouldn’t exceed one scoop of whey protein. Your doctor or a registered dietitian can help you figure out your diet and guide you on the best choices for your body.