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. References: Miller PE, Alexander DD, Perez V. Effects of whey protein and resistance exercise on body composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Am Coll Nutr. 2014 Apr;33(2):163-75.
Volek JS, Volk BM, Gómez AL, Kunces LJ, Kupchak BR, Freidenreich DJ, Aristizabal JC, Saenz C, Dunn-Lewis C, Ballard KD, Quann EE, Kawiecki DL, Flanagan SD, Comstock BA, Fragala MS, Earp JE, Fernandez ML, Bruno RS, Ptolemy AS, Kellogg MD, Maresh CM, Kraemer WJ. Whey protein supplementation during resistance training augments lean body mass. J Am Coll Nutr. 2013;32(2):122-35.