Whey Protein and Weight Loss

Does it seem like you have tried everything and you just can’t get those extra pounds to drop off? Like you are exercising and trying to eat right and that darn scale just continues to display a number that tells you all your efforts have been in vain? Well, here is something you might not have thought of yet-whey protein.

What is Whey Protein?

Whey protein is actually a by-product of processing cheese. It is the liquid that is produced right before cheese becomes cheese. Whey protein is separated from the liquid whey and is then purified into its various concentrations. Research has shown that whey protein is a superior form of protein providing all the vitamins and minerals of milk plus high levels of essential amino acids and branched chain amino acids (BCAA), which play a big part in maintenance of muscle tissue. Whey protein also has many great benefits to the immune system. It is high in the amino acid cysteine, which raises the levels of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that can reduce the risk of infection and make the immune system quicker to respond. And of course, the reason for this article, whey protein can aid in weight loss.

How does whey protein help with weight loss?

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  1. Increased satiety leading to decreased energy intake. Studies have shown that protein is more satiating than fat or carbohydrate on a weight-to-weight basis. This feeling of satiety leads to a decreased caloric intake. One study suggested whey protein facilitates satiety by lowering blood levels of the hormone ghrelin, causing a person feel full.
  2.  Thermogenesis. Reduction in fat stores may occur just because of the metabolic cost of digesting protein. Research suggests that, following a high protein meal, energy expenditure may increase by up to 160%, compared to a high-fat or high-carbohydrate meal. Even though the thermic effect of food is a small portion of our daily energy output, over the course of the day it can really add up.
  3. Changes in body composition: Studies suggest that whey protein consumption may reduce weight gain and body fat storage by stimulating the release and activity of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4), which increase metabolic rate, stimulating the mobilization and/or utilization of visceral fat. This decrease in visceral fat directly correlates to increased insulin sensitivity by decreasing plasma insulin concentration.  In addition, whey protein preserves and/or increases fat free mass which improves the metabolic profile because muscle burns more calories than fat, even while at rest.

Whey protein is a high quality protein source and is easily digested.  If you are stuck on a weight loss plateau, you may want to give whey protein a try in helping you achieve your weight loss goals. Just be sure to pick a whey protein product that is low in calories and fat. By increasing and maintaining muscle mass, helping to reduce fat stores, and making you feel full and satisfied for longer, your desired weight may be just around the corner. And as an added bonus, you can appreciate the boost it will give to your immune system, too.


Belobrajdic, Damien, P., McIntosh, Graime, H., and Owens, Julie, A. (June, 2004) A High-Whey-Protein Diet Reduces Body Weight Gain and Alters Insulin Sensitivity Relative to Red Meat in WIstar Rats. The Journal of Nutrition. Volume 134, 1454-1458. Retrieved on October 26, 2011 from http://jn.nutrition.org/content/134/6/1454.full

Geiser, Marjorie, RD, NSCA-PT. (October 2003). The Wonders of Whey Protein. NSCA’s Performance Training Journal, vol. 2, number 5, 13-15. Retrieved Oct. 26, 2011 from http://www.nsca-lift.org/Perform/issues/0205.pdf

Goodman, Brenda. (July 15, 2011). Whey Protein May Be Helpful for Weight Loss. Retrieved on October 26, 2011 from http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20110715/whey-protein-may-be-helpful-for-weight-loss?page=2

Westerterp-Plantanga, M S, PhD. (2006). Dietary Protein, Metabolism, and Body-Weight Regulation: Dose-Response Effects. International Journal of Obesity, Volume 30, S16-S23.  Retrieved on October 26, 2011 from http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v30/n3s/full/0803487a.html


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"Any change requires an initial period of discomfort until the body adjusts to the new demand." - Author unknown

One Response to “Whey Protein and Weight Loss”

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