Here’s a Quick Whey to Reduce Anxiety and Depression

Today I want to share with you a diet tip that can help you reduce your anxiety and depression .  I’ve always believed that to successfully cope with anxiety you have to use plenty of different tools and I’d like to suggest that you put whey protein into your toolbox.

Now, if you can’t consume milk or milk derived products, whey protein will not be of much use to you, so to these people, I owe you one.  But for everyone else that can consume milk derived products, let me introduce you to whey protein.  This stuff is absolutely amazing, and yes I do drink it.  I don’t work on a farm and have no connections to the dairy industry, so no this isn’t a commercial plug.  It just works and I want to tell you how.

Whey protein can do lots of things, for example, it can help you to heal wounds faster, lower cortisol, manage your weight, prevents bone loss, control cholesterol, and researchers believe it may even prevent cancer!  OK, before I get carried away, let’s just focus on how it can reduce anxiety and depression.

What is Whey?

Whey is made from cow’s milk and is a by product of the cheese making process.  Whey is the watery stuff that is separated from the curd and is usually made into a powder mix.  Depending on the brand you buy, it may not be the best tasting thing in the world, but nowadays there are many brands of whey protein that come in vanilla, chocolate and other flavors that are reasonably tasty.

What’s in Whey?

Whey is jammed packed with amino acids and various vitamins.  There are however two main amino acids that I want to talk about:  Tryptophan and Glutamine.

1. Tryptophan – This is an essential amino acid (meaning it’s not made by the body) typically found in whey protein powders.  Tryptophan aids in the the production of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter many researchers believe is linked to anxiety and depression.

It’s thought that having low levels of serotonin in the brain can make you anxious, depressed, and alter your mood in general.  So increasing serotonin should, hypothetically at least, make you feel better.  Also, unlike Prozac and other drugs used to maintain serotonin levels in the brain, consuming amino acids like tryptophan actually helps to make more serotonin, and as far as I know whey protein (milk) doesn’t make you want to kill yourself like some SSRIs (anti-depressant meds) do, so it can’t hurt.

2. Glutamine –  Is a non-essential amino acid (meaning the body can produce it) that is known to reduce anxiety.  Glutamine is a precursor of GABA which “regulates neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system,” i.e., keeps you calm.

I really don’t want to start spewing science babble about amino acids, neurotransmitters, and all the rest of it.  Don’t get me wrong, this type of thing is useful to know, but my point is that WHEY IS GOOD.

I drink whey isolate because it’s about 90% protein, which means it has lots of those awesome amino acids I was talking about, but less fat and lactose than whey concentrate.

Preparation is also a snap.  Because it comes in powdered form you simply mix the whey protein with water or milk and simply stir, shake, or blend it.  You can also add fruit to the mix.

Here’s a Quick Protein Shake Recipe:

1 banana

1 scoop of whey protein

half cup of water or milk

1/2 cup low fat yogurt

1/2 cup of ice

Blend until smooth and tasty looking.

You can add any and all kind of fruit, but I like to use bananas because they contain tryptophan and boost energy without making you feel all wild eyed like coffee does.

Whey protein is not known to have any side effects if you tolerate milk well.  That said, some have posited that drinking too much whey protein can damage the kidneys and or liver if abused, so I’d air on the side of caution and keep consumption to under 48g per day.

Remember that you also get protein from food, like meats for example, so you don’t have to go crazy and start downing jugs of this stuff.  It is simply a supplement to the rest of your diet.

The bottom line is that amino acids are the building blocks of our bodies.  They help keep our nervous system healthy and promote the production of beneficial neurotransmitters that help regulate mood.

Protein is made from amino acids, and whey powder mix has lots of protein in it.  It’s natural and is a great addition to any anti-anxiety arsenal.

But please, do some research and look into it further for yourself.  I don’t want to over hype whey protein like some summer blockbuster film.  You know the one, were all your friends over sell the movie as the best thing ever, then when you go see it you feel robbed and empty because it sucked.

Whey protein is not a magic serum, but it certainly contains the basic building materials for a healthy brain.  I started using it because I work out a great deal and it helps me recover from intense workouts.  But I also noticed that after I drank it I felt relaxed and calm.

The worst that could happen is that you get some gas and a little bloated.  That’s not a huge price to pay for something that could potentially reduce your anxiety and depression.  Cheers!



  1. says

    great article and interesting play with the headline. That immediately grabbed my attention so I kept reading. Thanks for sharing that great information!

  2. Stan says

    I think what’s reducing your anxiety as well is the fact that you exercise. I don’t want to knock on protein shakes, because I drink them too, but I think the key point here is that if you want help in reducing your anxiety/depression you should start a simple exercise program followed by a protein shake and eventually you will feel a lot better.

    I lowered my low moods and constant anxiety by swimming and drinking protein shake’s although I didn’t realize that the shake might have something to do with it too, good to know. I gotta get back into it now.

  3. says

    my body aches and pains (years of athletic sports, motorcycles and knee surgery)and 50 lbs over wgt (I’M 5-10,51 YRS OLD,236LBS) have led me to research a correction, so far i’ve found it: walking 4-5x wk. (3.5mph 45min-1hr.), weights (i use free wgts vs machine or natural resistance-all 3 methods are fine though, 2-3x wk 30min-1hr.),,,BUT, I’LL SAY IT AGAIN B-U-T, UNTIL I STARTED TAKING 1/2 TSP “CEYLONE CINNAMON”(true cinnamon)DAILY, DARK COCO POWDER 1TBSP (hershys unsweetened for ex. 3-4X WK), 30-40 GRAMS WHEY PROTEIN (am and late day, every day),
    ONE WHOLE BANANA (peel washed & put into protein shake every day)and one more fruit, veggies and fish- chicken- turkey daily-red meat(1x week).

    This diet did not include the first part (cinnamon,coco,& whey protein the first 12 months i was on it, when i added those extra ingredients is when i really noticed after a month or so my body inflamation(and pain) went practically to zero.
    {{Recently I’ve started to take knox gelatin 1 packet or 1 tbsp 4-5x week it is much much cheaper than glucosamine tablets for cartilage repair knees back etc…just add it to plain or flavored water}}

    Sorry for the long post, but it works…

  4. Ry says

    I came across this article after I bought a Whey powder product. I have had anxiety for over 15 years. I have lived with it and have taken prescriptions to deal with it. I was on Klonopin for almost 10 years and weened myself off of it with the Ashton Manual Guide Program. This has left me on Valium for the last 5 years (at a low dose of 5 mg’s day.) Regardless. I can speak first hand to knwoing about anxiety and dealing with it in my life. For all of these year’s I have never felt “relaxed” but once in a while. Everytime I find myself feeling relaxed I immediately try to find out how that happened, what did I eat, etc… I have tried many amino acids, you name it and nothing has worked. I would also tell you that I am in great shape, I excercise daily and do all sorts of activities from Karate to Surfing. Bottom line, when I drank the Whey product for the first time a day ago I felt relaxed. I then drank it today and the same feeling occured thus my reason for going on the internet to find out how. All I can say is that if this is the “cure” I will be schocked. I have searched for 15 years. Did I say 15 years? I will keep you posted as I am not sure how long this might work or what the dosage is, etc… I also never comment on the internet but felt that if I can help 1 person stop anxiety or releive some of the symptoms I had to let you know.

  5. mark says

    Hi i use whey powder and exercise, iwas 22 stone and in a year im now 15 stone, and my depression i suffered for 15 yrs has def near gone, i get the odd bad day but who doesnt. Def whey and exercise together will help with mood and body weight, and it gives you conficence when you look better. Have also found ill heal alot faster which sprains etc..

  6. Geert says

    There is supposed to be a competition in absorption between amino acids when taking in large doses, resulting in a reduced availability of tryptophan in the brain. This can explain lots of anxiety/depression problem when some people taking whey.

    It’s in other words the opposite of what this article is saying…
    A quick search learns that some people clearly do have evelvated anxiety/depression on whey.

  7. Joel says

    I discovered this on my own after trying an all day protein shake fast. I have dealt with anxiety issues for a while now and I’ve recently been getting a shaky trachea feeling. However drinking a good protein shake with a complete essential amino acid profile calms me down and my symptoms! I’m pleasantly surprised. I think part of the answer for me personally is a higher protein diet. Nothing else has worked. Been vegan before and felt empty inside, tried high starch, the same feeling. Tried a normal diet but watche my calories, same results. But getting these whey shakes in, upping my protein really helps. I’m thinking its the amino acids and my serotonin, something positive is going on there. Perhaps a genetic weakness that I can supplement now and correct :) thanks for the article as it confirmed what I’ve been thinking.

  8. says

    whey protein gives me anxiety,3 shakes a day while training,got sick for 3 weeks and stopped taking supplements and it hugely reduced and i see allot of people who take them have similar experiences ,be very careful what you buy and everything in moderation

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