The data on whey are amazing. It truly is the protein of choice for any serious athlete or bodybuilder. There’s more to whey, though, than just pretty muscles.
In a recent study 30 moderately fit participants completed a modified Air Force fitness test, a computer-based cognition test and a dual-energy X-ray-absorptiometry scan for body composition before and after supplementing their daily diet for eight weeks with either 19.7 grams of whey protein and 6.2 grams leucine or an isocaloric placebo. Bench press performance increased significantly from week 1 to week 8 in the first group. Pushup performance, total mass, fat-free mass and lean body mass all increased significantly in that group. Clearly, sugar doesn’t do jack. Whey protein, however? It’s the greatest.1
Another study showed that post-exercise supplementation with carbohydrate and whey protein hydrolysate increases skeletal muscle glycogen restoration.2 Again, there’s more to the amazing protein than just muscle. It’s actually pretty damn good for your health. For instance, a very recent 12-week investigation compared the effects of whey protein on body composition, lipids, insulin and glucose to casein or glucose supplementation in fat individuals. What did the researchers discover? The subjects who got whey protein experienced no significant change in body composition or serum glucose at 12 weeks compared with the control or casein group. Okay, so no difference there. Fasting triglycerides, however, lowered more in the whey group than the glucose group at six and 12 weeks. There was a greater decrease in total and low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol at week 12 in the whey group than in either the casein or control group. Fasting insulin also dropped more in the whey group than in the control group. So supplementation with whey protein improves fasting lipids and insulin counts in fat individuals.3
Researchers have also found that people who got a breakfast yogurt drink with added whey experienced increased energy expenditure and protein balance and decreased fat balance than subjects who got a normal breakfast.4
You can see that there are many reasons to put whey in your diet. They include muscle building, recovery, improved blood lipids and insulin and enhanced energy expenditure—whey cool!
Editor’s note: Jose Antonio, Ph.D., is the CEO of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (www.TheISSN.org); also check out his site www.TheWeekendWorkout.com.
1 Walker, T. B., et al. (2010). The influence of 8 weeks of whey-protein and leucine supplementation on physical and cognitive performance. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 20:409-417.
2 Morifuji, M., et al. (2010). Post-exercise carbohydrate plus whey protein hydrolysates supplementation increases skeletal muscle glycogen level in rats. Amino Acids. 38:1109-1115.
3 Pal, S., et al. (2010). Effects of whey protein isolate on body composition, lipids, insulin and glucose in overweight and obese individuals. Br J Nutr. 104:716-723.
4 Hursel, R., et al. (2010). Effects of a breakfast yoghurt, with additional total whey protein or caseinomacropeptide-depleted alpha-lactalbumin-enriched whey protein, on diet-induced thermogenesis and appetite suppression. Br J Nutr. 103:775-780.