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Whey protein enhances fat burning and reduces body fat

Athletes are encouraged to take protein for the main reason it increases muscle protein synthesis. But higher protein diets may also play a role in fat burning.

A recent report from the Netherlands concluded that there is a connection between increasing protein intake and fat burning, and that such an effect promotes favorable effects on body composition.

Men and women with normal weight were randomized into two groups. The control group consumed 59g of protein (from regular food) per day for three months. The higher protein group consumed 80g of protein (59g from regular food plus 21g from whey and casein protein) per day for the same length of time. The diets all contained adequate calories so that weight remained stable.

After three months, body composition remained unchanged in the control group. However, the higher protein group lost 2.6 pounds of body fat and gained 3.3 pounds of lean body mass. The researchers also determined the subjects’ maximal rate of fat burning during exercise. The higher protein group increased this rate by 16%, whereas the control was unchanged.

These findings confirm other studies showing that diets higher in protein improve body composition by promoting maintenance of lean body mass and loss in fat mass. This study is unique as it was conducted with individuals with normal weight who were not restricting calories.

In summary, increasing protein intake beyond the recommended dietary allowance is associated with increased fat oxidation and decreased fat mass.

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