I am a teen, 15 I do quite a lot of gym work along with football. I am constantly sore and I feel that my work doesn't achieve anything because there isn't enough protein to repair and make my muscles grow stronger. Therefore I want to start having Whey Protein Powder to add that extra protein to my diet. However I have heard that if you have not fully grown then the protein powder has effects that you may not need. I have heard that it may stunt your vertical growth which I do not want this, is this true?
I used to hear the same from my parents and grandparents when I was around your age. "That powder stuff can't be good for you", "it's gonna make you fat", "it's like doping, stop taking it", "you're gonna get kidney stones"...you get the point.
I think it's important that you don't just come to a site like this and blindly follow the answers we give you but that you actually understand the entire process, and understand the logic and reason it for yourself. I'll state some facts first, give you my opinion, and you can reach the conclusion by yourself. If you do not believe the things I say, let me know in the comments and I'll also post a few articles/journals but I'm gonna keep it relatively "technical term friendly" so you can understand.
First of all, you must understand how one can actually stunt their growth in the first place. The most common reason seems to be due to inadequate nutrition. Think about it, if you don't eat your vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, what is your body going to use to build it self to be bigger and stronger? Nothing. It's similar to trying to build a house with no bricks or wood, how are you going to build it ? You simply can't. Note that this is also usually seen at very early ages, as in anywhere from birth until around 7-8. Since you haven't had stunted growth so far, it's pretty safe you have had good (at least not horrible) nutrition to date.
Since you sound like a healthy teenager (no serious diseases) we can rule out serious immune system deficiency from birth, and thus you are fine in that regard as well.
Now the most common other causes of stunted growth are due to genetics, serious illnesses, complications during your birth, and now my favourite one, and one that EVERYONE will mess up, is due to your hormones.
The hormone part of the above, is where basically every single parent gets their myths from. You see, back in the day, when my parents were just teenagers, they used to watch the olympics and olympic weightlifting. One common theme between all the weightlifters were that they were very short athletes, at least compared to some of the other athletes in the olympics. Throughout the years, wives tale after wives tale later, people somehow reached the conclusion that these weightlifters are short since they lift heavy weights. Now, what's one of the most common things associated with lifting weights ? Supplementing with protein!
As another example, if you look at the bodybuilders of the 80s-90s, they are all rather average height, or shorter (with the exception of Arnold). What do bodybuilders eat to get bigger and stronger? Protein!
The truth is, whey protein is just a supplement. It is similar to those Flinstones vitamins that we used to take as kids. When we can't get enough nutrients from our daily food (diet) alone, we turn to supplements such as whey protein, vitamins, fish oils, in order to. You know what else has a lot of whey protein ? MILK! That's a bit ironic isn't it? But don't we hear that drinking milk will make our bones stronger and make us grow? But how can that be if milk is just a mix of whey and casein protein? Well...as I'm sure you've understood by now, taking whey protein (or ANY proper supplement for that reason), provides your body with extra nutrients that you can't get from your diet..so, if anything, whey protein HELPS with growth. Think about it , how could something that gives you extra nutrients possibly make you stop growing?
As for where the myth comes from, as I was mentioning above, bodybuilders and weightlifters have generally been short athletes, and at least back where I'm from (Eastern Europe), all the parents will believe that lifting weights stunts growth, as a result since protein is tied to lifting weights, it gets a bad rep among people who just refuse to think...granted they are just worried about their children.
The ACTUAL reason for why these athletes are short are due to many things and noone can narrow it down to just one thing. I know for a FACT, that many weightlifters (especially the pros) will start supplementing with anabolic steroids from their teenage years when they are still growing. Now, remember how I said hormones play a huge role in growth? Well anabolic steroids are the grandfather of hormonal supplements, and they will cause your hormones to be very irregular and unbalanced. This is because, when you take steroids, youre injecting yourself with extra hormones. Your body, accordingly thinks, "hmmm, well if I already have all these extra hormones, I should stop producing my own", and so it stops your natural supply of hormones. And as a result, if used improperly, your body never really recovers, and your growth slows down greatly.There's ALOT more that goes on in this process, but this is enough for the sake of arguement.
The next time your parents make such a claim, show them this entire answer, and keep working hard, you have nothing to worry about.
Protein powders are not different than "natural" high protein foods such as cottage cheese, poultry, eggs, etc in terms of "being natural". It's sort of real food with other ingredients removed so you'll be able to consume a lot of protein without consuming other organic compounds.
In addition, I actually read about a few researches which state that high protein diet affects your height for good. An example from the following article:
Can special treatment and nutrient supplements increase the height further? The answer is yes. The most important nutrient for final height is protein in childhood.
Though, the affections is very minor (about 2 cm range).
To sum up, studies from recent years actually state that high protein diet is good for most of us, so if such powder may help you to increase your overall protein consumption (which is presumably not high enough according to your post), I recommend you to take it.
Nothing to worry about, it's just milk protein. Many baby food formulas contain whey and casein protein. Read about "whey protein" in wiki. There is just lots of misinformation about supplements in general.
They key to proper recovery and muscle growth is to have enough daily protein intake, regardless of the source - about 2 grams per kg of body weight (without counting non-animal protein sources). If you have a poor diet, whey protein won't help you much. Strive to consume enough protein from food and add protein shakes here and there to help you match that figure, or as a bonus intake on training days.