by Jeff S. Volek, Ph.D., R.D.
Whey protein reduces body fat and increases lean muscle
If you use whey protein, I have great news for you. Results of a recently published analysis of several trials supports the use of whey protein for improving body composition. The authors examined 14 studies that included a total of 626 individual participants. The studies varied considerably in design which allowed different usage patterns to be analyzed.
Here were some of the key findings. In studies that used whey as a supplement without other dietary modification, the loss in body fat was 1.2 pounds. In studies where whey protein replaced other calories in the diet, the loss in body fat was 8.2 pounds. In studies where subjects supplemented with whey protein and performed resistance training, there was a significant increase in lean body mass of 5 pounds.
My research team recently completed the largest and longest study examining the effects of whey protein in combination with resistance exercise.2 We showed that after 9 months of resistance training, subjects who supplemented with whey showed significantly greater increases in lean body mass (7.3 pounds) than subjects who supplemented with carbohydrate (5.1 pounds) or soy protein (4.0 pounds).
The available evidence supports the use of whey protein reducing body fat and increasing lean body mass, especially if whey replaces other calories in the diet and you combine it with resistance exercise. Whey and casein protein lower blood pressure
Previous studies have associated dairy intake, especially milk proteins (both whey and casein), with vascular health. Results of a short-term intervention study further strengthen this relationship. Obese, but otherwise healthy women between the ages of 19 and 44 years with moderately elevated blood pressure were randomly assigned to a whey, casein or a carbohydrate supplement group. They all consumed 30 grams of their respective supplement at night at least 2 hours after dinner. They also participated in a combined exercise program that included 3 sessions per week. Several measures of vascular health were recorded before and after 4 weeks of exercise and supplementation. There was a 5-7 point decrease in systolic blood pressure in both the whey and casein groups (about 5-7 mmHg measured in both the arm and artery). The whey and casein groups both improved augmentation index by about 9%, which is a measure of arterial stiffness. These results support the use of whey and casein as effective supplements to improve vascular health in young women with hypertension. Boost muscle building by 25% if you balance your protein intake at each meal
A lot of effort has been placed on comparing different protein sources and amounts, but new research has identified another important variable to consider – distribution of protein across meals. Most people consume their largest meal at dinner containing approximately 3 times more calories than breakfast. Researchers recently questioned whether such an unequal (skewed) distribution of protein is optimal or whether a more balanced approach with equal protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner would be preferred.
Healthy men and women were fed two identical diets each for one week. The diets contained enough calories to maintain body weight and included approximately 90 grams of protein (1.2 grams per kilogram body weight). The only difference was that during one week, protein was distributed evenly at breakfast (30g), lunch (30g) and dinner (30g), whereas the other week it contained less protein at breakfast (10g) and lunch (15g) and more at dinner (65g).
On days 1 and 7 of each diet, muscle protein synthesis was measured after breakfast and over a 24-hour period. The muscle protein synthesis response to breakfast when protein was distributed evenly (30g) was 30% higher than when protein was skewed (10g). When muscle protein synthesis was measured over the entire day, it remained significantly higher (about 25%) when protein was distributed evenly versus skewed. In other words, the large amount of protein consumed at dinner during the skewed trial did not make up for the reduced response to breakfast. These results suggest that a more favorable response in muscle protein synthesis can be achieved when total protein intake is balanced across three meals as opposed to consuming the majority at one meal.