Whey Protein: Building Muscle AND Telomeres

Whey Protein helps build muscle AND telomeres.

I began this endeavor to prove I could reverse my biological age totally opposed to consuming anything that was not naturally occurring.  I decided I would consume strictly real food.  Nothing artificial.  No preservatives.  No pharmaceuticals.  No artificial flavors or colors.   No Nothing that I couldn’t hunt or grow myself.  I would live as those who came before me lived for the last 10,000 years.  I thought that would be both the healthiest as well as the best nutritional method to lengthen my telomeres.  Generally speaking, I continue to believe that is a pretty good policy to live by.  One can, however, take it too far, in which case the policy becomes both inconsistent and fundamentally flawed.A strict “Caveman” philosophy is inconsistent with my lifestyle because there are tons of modern things I enjoy and that also have the capacity to lengthen my telomeres that never existed before quite recently.  Vitamins and supplements are a modern development, as are all the audiobooks that are quenching my voracious appetite for age reversal related knowledge.  I also like to watch documentaries.  Not so primal.  My computer with high speed internet and wifi?  Ha!  That would all have to go if I wanted to live like someone from the 1980’s, let alone like a true caveman.  I distinctly remember getting our family’s first computer, an Apple IIE, on which I played Oregon Trail for what must have been hundreds of hours.  We are blessed to live in a time with so many scientific, nutritional, and technological advances.  We should take advantage of the ones that are beneficial and avoid those that are demonstrably harmful.

The “Live Like a Caveman” policy is fundamentally flawed for my purposes because breakthroughs in biological age reversal will emerge not from a plant or herb; rather, these breakthroughs, some of which may be quite literally upon us, will emerge from scientists working diligently in the pharmaceutical field, the tissue engineering (regrowing our cells and organs) field, the epigenetic therapy field, the pluripotent stem cell field, biotech, and nanotech.  Some of the leading minds in the “Aging is a Disease that can be Cured” club, have convinced me that it would be foolish not to take advantage of all the potential health benefits of our time.   Author of Fantastic Voyage and Google Executive, Ray Kurzweil, reportedly takes 150 pills a day and spends one million dollars a year on what he puts in his body, whether it be food, liquid, vitamins, supplements, drugs, or hormones.  ​

Changing My Mind
I’ve read literally dozens of books since I began thinking about reversing my age.  I first stumbled across the potential benefits of whey protein on telomeres early in my quest while performing internet research.  At the time, I remember thinking, “That’s great and I’m going to store this knowledge, but it’s just not something I am going to do right now because I want this year to be about being ‘all natural’.”  Then I encountered it again at Dr. Mercola’s Website.  Dr. Mercola, the famed author and entrepreneur who runs a website on alternative medicine, takes whey protein every morning.1  Whey protein came up yet again in the book Bio-Young, by Roxy Dillon.  And yet again in the book Beyond Training by Ben Greenfield.  My position on what “natural” means and what is “healthy” has simultaneously been evolving until finally, I decided, this is something I must try immediately.  I had also begun to peak with respect to strength gains, so the timing was perfect.On non fast day mornings, I begin the day with a smoothie of my own concoction.  I usually mix a considerable amount of kale, a banana, a handful of strawberries and then add some ice cubes and four level tablespoons of Deep 30 Whey Protein.  I sometimes also add Cocoa and peanut butter powder and Flax or Chia Seeds.  I then grind it all up in my nutribullet and have a nice cold, large, delicious smoothie that I drink on my way to work.  It’s quite filling and tasty.​
Whey Protein and Human Growth Hormone
I remain convinced human growth hormone has very powerful anti aging effects, though studies on supplementing with HGH for anti-aging are limited and the very subject is extremely controversial.  Though I support doing whatever one can to naturally increase HGH production, I remain suspicious of claims that injecting HGH, even the bioidentical variety, is unequivocally safe.  In my view, taking HGH remains a risky endeavor with potentially catastrophic consequences  including cancer, cardiomegaly, acromegaly, and hyperglycemia.  One can never really know how one will epigenetically react to a drug, especially a powerful hormone, neither in the near, nor the long, term.   Overproduction of HGH is linked with not longer, but shorter, telomeres and a shorter lifespan to go along with them.  Think of Andre the Giant.  There are other, safer, highly effective ways of increasing growth hormone without having to worry about scary side effects.  Whey protein very effectively raises growth hormone levels in the body.2  Other methods of naturally increasing HGH include, getting 8 hours of sleep, going to bed before 10 pm, hyperthermia therapy, squatting and High Intensity Interval Training workouts.   The evidence pointing towards whey protein’s ability to naturally increase HGH production had a lot to do with my decision to supplement my diet with it.
Whey Protein and Muscle
Partially because whey protein effectively stimulates growth hormone production, it increases muscle volume and growth in young and old alike.3  Studies have conclusively proven HGH increases lean muscle mass and decreases body fat.  Thus, HGH improves not one, but at least two, biomarkers of aging (lower body fat and more lean muscle mass).  One of the guiding principles of this endeavor is that if I can improve as many biomarkers of aging by as much as possible, my telomeres will surely follow.Weight lifting regimens can be really tough on one’s muscles and tissues.  Accordingly, one’s body will need additional protein so that it can adequately and quickly repair the damage incurred while training.  Just consuming additional needed protein, even if it is not whey protein,  will make a weight lifter’s muscles grow.  Protein’s building blocks, amino acids, enable muscle repair and building to take place.  Since my mid twenties I have always though, “Protein good.  More, better.  Refined carbohydrates bad.”  While my views on protein and carbohydrates have evolved significantly, becoming more nuanced, the general principle remains more or less accurate.  Make no mistake though, one should consume high quality carbohydrates and one can consume too much protein, resulting in increased body fat, kidney disease, heart disease, and even cancer.4Bodybuilding.com, a very popular health and fitness website, maintains a running list of “The Top 50 Supplements.”  Gold Standard Whey, by Optimum Nutrition, currently sits in the top spot.  In fact, it has reigned supreme since 2005.  That’s 12 years in the #1 position in an extraordinarily competitive, multi-billion dollar industry.  Why?  Because it works.  I’ve had two, two pound containers of Optimum Whey in my kitchen cabinet for more than five years, even though I haven’t used the supplement more than a handful of times.  I could never bring myself to throw them away because I felt like I would be throwing away money.​
Whey Protein and Telomeres
Roxy Dillon, author of the book Bio-Young, explains, “Although there has been some concern about the possibility of telomere-lengthening agents increasing cancer risk, there are many safe, natural substances that protect and lengthen telomeres and actually prevent cancer.  As you’ll see in the list below, there is a very close relationship between stem cells, telomeres, antioxidants, and estrogen that keep your body healthy.  Antioxidants provide powerful protection for telomeres, preventing their shortening and even lengthening them.”4   One such substance is whey protein.5  Yep, believe it or not, whey protein has been shown to lengthen telomeres.6  The longer your telomeres, the longer your life and healthspan are likely to be.  How could I not begin supplementing my diet with whey protein?
What I am Doing
I have selected Deep 30 as my whey protein supplement.  I believed it to be the perfect form of bioavailable whey protein made from all natural, grass fed goat milk; combining essential electrolytes, whey protein, and probiotics.  I happen to have just finished a book on probiotics called The Human Superorganism by Rodney Dietert, PhD.  It is a fantastic book and has opened my eyes to the possibility of one’s microbiome being a critical aspect of living healthily.  Deep 30 claims its Electrolyte/Protein blend symbiotically assists both digestion and absorption of nutrients.​

Ben Greenfield, author of Beyond Training, recommends taking Deep 30 in twenty to twenty-five gram portions at a .7 to .8 gram ratio per pound of bodyweight spread evenly through the day.7  That amounts to 112 grams for me or the equivalent of 4 ½ servings.  At that rate, I would finish the two pound jug in less than seven days.  My monthly whey protein bill would be $280.00.  That’s a lot of money for protein.  At $62.00 for each 2 lb jug, Deep 30 is significantly more expensive than other leading brands of whey protein powder.  Optimum Whey costs $11.60 a pound, while Deep 30 costs $31.00 a pound; three times as much.  I have thus far limited my intake to a single serving each non fast day.

While I am sure Deep 30 is a fantastic product, this will be the first and last container I purchase.  You may be thinking, “But John, you just sang the praises of this product and sold me on adding it to my repertoire.”  Not so fast.  Jim Stoppani, an amateur bodybuilder with a PhD in Exercise Physiology and Research Fellow at Yale University School of Medicine, convinced me I was wasting my money when he wrote:

“If we were talking about organic dairy products like milk, cottage cheese and Greek yogurt (coming from organically raised, grass-fed cows), I would say yes, go organic. Same goes for organic fruits and vegetables – definitely worth it due to more micronutrients being present and less pesticides.

But in the case of organic whey protein powder… no, absolutely not.
So it actually makes zero sense for the manufacturer to pay more for whey protein from organic milk given the fact that all the additional health benefits are going to be completely removed in the manufacturing process.

Well, what about the protein? Good question. The protein in milk from organically-raised/grass-fed cows has the same amino acids and structure as protein in conventional milk. Let me repeat: The protein quality is the same whether it’s organic or not. Amino acids are amino acids.

So again, there’s no difference between regular whey protein and organic/grass-fed protein in regards to any contaminants.”8

So, maybe I got ripped off.  I simply do not need the quality I bought; nor does anybody else.  I can’t help but wonder if Ben Greenfield knew this and got paid to plug this product or if he has some financial interest in the company.  Maybe, maybe not.  We’ll never know.  Regardless, the experience has reminded me that we must read reviews with an extra critical eye.

Today, I threw away the giant jugs of Optimum Whey I have been lugging around with me for the last five years.  I finally did so because I discovered they have a couple of nasty ingredients; namely Acesulfame K, artificial flavors, yellow #5 (linked to ADHD and allergies), and soy ingredients, which are among the most genetically modified plants in the world.  I am replacing Deep 30 with Pure Label Nutrition grass fed whey protein.  I have not selected this product because it comes from grass fed cows.  I selected it because it has no artificial sweeteners or preservatives.  Because this whey protein is flavorless, I will be happy to create my own natural flavors.  The five pound container costs $58.97, the equivalent of $11.80 a pound.  That’s only a mere $0.20 more a pound than Optimum Whey and lacks the nasty ingredients.

Be prudent when making vitamin and supplement decisions.  Read labels.  And never forget to make yourself at least just a little uncomfortable every single day.  Lift hard, cycle fast, run far.  Suffer.  There is virtue in it.
Citations:
Mercola, J. (2011, April `14). New Science of Living Longer and How to Achieve It. Retrieved December 25, 2017, from https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/04/14/new-science-of-living-longer-and-how-to-achieve-it.aspx
2  Dillon, R. (2017). Bio-young: Get Younger at a Cellular and Hormonal Level. Simon and Schuster. 124.
3  Dillon, R. (2017). Bio-young: Get Younger at a Cellular and Hormonal Level. Simon and Schuster. 126.
4  Schuna, C. (2017, October 03). Can You Overdose on Protein? Retrieved December 26, 2017, from https://www.livestrong.com/article/428420-can-you-overdose-on-protein/
5  Dillon, R. (2017). Bio-young: Get Younger at a Cellular and Hormonal Level. Simon and Schuster. 96.
6  Dillon, R. (2017). Bio-young: Get Younger at a Cellular and Hormonal Level. Simon and Schuster. 96.
7 Dillon, R. (2016). Anti-Age Your Skin with Whey. Retrieved December 25, 2017
8  Greenfield, Ben. (2014). Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health, and Life. Victory Belt Publishing, Inc. 108,
9  Stoppani, J.Organic Whey: Waste or Worth It?.  Retrieved December 26, 2017, from https://www.jimstoppani.com/supplements/organic-whey

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