Whey can help prevent muscle loss during exercise in overweight/obese individuals


If you are trying to lose weight and enrolled in a workout program, then the question about which protein supplement to consume is bound to arise. A recent study by Canadian and UK researchers has given the ones with whey an edge over soy containing supplements. Their study has found that adding whey proteins to a short-term workout program can help prevent muscle loss, an effect not shown by soy proteins.

Overweight and obese adults were the beneficiaries especially if they consumed a low calorie diet supplemented with whey protein supplements as it caused a greater increase in muscle protein synthesis. These exciting results were published in the Journal of Nutrition.

The randomised, double blind 14-day study involved 40 overweight and obese men and women. They all were given hypoenergetic diets supplemented with either whey or soy protein 2 times per day (amounting to 27 grams per supplement) or 25 grams of a carbohydrate (maltodextrin) supplement. The low calorie diet was preceeded by 3 days of supplementation.

The study found that pre-diet whey supplementation stimulated myofibrillar protein synthesis (MPS) more than soy or carb supplements. After 2 weeks of the study, post-prandial MPS reduced by 9%, 28% and 31% in the whey, soy and carb groups, respectively. According to the researchers, the greater leucine content in whey protein as compared to soy protein could be the trigger for muscle protein synthesis.

Talking about the study, the researchers said, “the novel finding of the study was that twice-daily consumption of whey protein resulted in the attenuation of the post prandial decline in MPS during a short term hypoenergetic diet in comparison to twice daily supplementation with soy protein or carbohydrate.” They further add, “our data showed a greater peak and net area under curve exposure to leucine and essential amino acids with whey than with soy or carbohydrate. There is evidence that whey protein as opposed to soy protein, results in amino acids being directed more towards peripheral or muscular tissues than splanchnic tissues.”

This study thus revealed the importance of protein quality especially in the presence of a low calorie diet. This could help in developing nutritional strategies that promote healthy weight loss among overweight/obese individuals.

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