Whey Protein Stimulates Muscle Growth

According to a new study, whey protein stimulates new muscle growth better than either of two forms of casein protein.

Sarcopenia—the loss of muscle as we age- is a serious issue in aging. Losing muscle means losing strength and vitality. Studies suggest that our ability to synthesize (make) muscle in response to food intake is impaired in older adults. How well we create new muscle depends on the quantity—and to some extent the quality—of the protein we eat.

The objective of the current study was to compare three types of protein and see which one had a better effect on muscle protein accretion (in plain English, the researchers wanted to see which protein was the best at helping subjects build new muscle, thus helping to ward off the effect of sarcopenia.)

The clear winner was whey.

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In this study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a total of 48 older men were randomly assigned to ingest a meal-like amount of whey protein, casein (milk protein) or casein hydrolysate. Though the experiment only lasted one day, the researchers were able to monitor blood levels throughout the day and performed muscle biopsies to see what was really going on.

Sure enough, those consuming the whey protein were able to synthesize new muscle proteins at a significantly greater rate than those consuming the other two protein supplements.

The researchers suspect two things are at play here:

  1. The greater muscle protein response to whey is probably due to its faster digestion and absorption.
  2. The amino acid profile of whey protein is more conducive to muscle building due to its higher concentration of leucine, an amino acid that has been shown in other research to make a tremendous difference in the ability to put on muscle.

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Leucine has been shown to burn fat and spare muscle in studies by Donald Layman, PhD. “In studying exercise and how muscle develops, we found tha leucine has a particularly unique effect in tha it spares muscle proteins during weight loss, so you only lose the fat and not the muscle”, Layman told WebMD.

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7 Comments

  1. Antonio

    So … they compared dairy protein with dairy protein an dairy protein. And the winner is ….. DAIRY !! Nice.

    Reply
  2. Hans

    Hey Dr. Bowyen,

    I consume whey on a regular basis like 10-30 grams a day in the form of powder (supplement, natural, no flavor).
    What is your recommendation how to take it
    a) post workout and
    b) as an addition to a meal in general?
    I used to mix it with raw milk until the farmer told me his cows are fed a mixture of corn and soy 🙁
    I tried mixing it with water, flaxseed oil and cinnamon. But I don’t want to get too much of the seed oils.

    Best,
    Hans

    Reply
  3. cab mccann

    I don’t like the new format. I can’t tell whether it’s a Johnny Bowden article or an infomercial by somebody else to get me to buy something.

    I don’t like this. This used to be my favorite health information source, but now I can’t get to the material.

    I just don’t like it.

    Reply
  4. alfredoe

    There is a new study saying that omega 3 fats, usually found in fish oil, may help avoid or reduce this muscle wasting that comes with age because it favors the protein synthesis necessary to preserve and build muscle. Something very important for athletes of all kinds and for the normal aging person, as we all are.

    The study was done in individuals with around 70 years old receiving 3.300 mg of omega 3 fats (EPA plus DHA), an amount equivalent to 9.000 mg of commercial fish oil. A relatively high amount of omega 3.

    According to the authors of the study, the difficulty of aging people to maintain muscle mass was dramatically changed with omega 3, increasing the rate of muscle protein synthesis.

    http://www.omega-3-fish-oil-wonders.com/burn-fat-build-muscle.html

    Reply
  5. Sharon

    I use grass fed whey concentrate. My concern is the casein. I’m considered pre diabetic and I wonder…is whey protein powder safe for me?

    Reply
  6. Timothy Lundberg

    Protein is found throughout the body—in muscle, bone, skin, hair, and virtually every other body part or tissue

    Bodybuilding supplements are dietary supplements commonly used by those involved in bodybuilding and athletics. Bodybuilding supplements may be used to replace meals, enhance weight gain, promote weight loss or improve athletic performance.

    The best known (and best studied) use of whey protein supplements, is for the purpose of increasing muscle mass and strength. Whey protein is popular among athletes, bodybuilders, fitness models, as well as people looking to improve their performance in the gym.

    Reply

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