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Whey Protein May Help With Muscle Retention During Weight Loss

When people are losing weight they often lose muscle instead of fat, which is a key contributor to resting calorie burning. A recent study suggests that whey protein may help with weight loss while simultaneously retaining muscle when people are following a diet.


Participants in the study included 40 overweight or obese adults between the ages of 35 and 65 with a body mass index of 28-50 kg/m2. Over the course of 14 days they were given either 27 g of whey protein, 26 g of soy protein, or 25 g isoenergetic carbohydrate twice daily. All of participants also followed a 2750 calorie per day diet.


At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted better muscle synthesis in the whey group.  This was measured by attenuated decline in postprandial rates of myofibrillar protein synthesis after the participants lost weight. They also noted suppression of lipolysis or the breakdown of fatty acids in all of the groups, but it was most notable in the carbohydrate group.


Myofibrillar protein synthesis and lipolysis are both important in the maintenance of muscle and the loss of fat.


Researchers from McMaster University conducted the study. It was published on February 1, 2015, in The Journal of Nutrition.


Whey protein is one of the two proteins found in milk, but is only approximately 1% of the composition of milk. It is obtained as a byproduct of cheese making and can be purchased in powder form from health food stores. Additionally, it can be found in yogurt and in ricotta cheese, which is one of the only cheeses that do not have the whey removed.

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