By Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D., "Whey Leaner,"July/August 2011
Can a little whey help you weigh less? Protein is great for dieters—compared to carbohydrates and fat, it keeps you feeling fuller longer. Now new research published in the Journal of Nutrition shows that the protein in dairy may give you an extra edge if you’re looking to get leaner.
When researchers fed two groups of mice a high-fat diet for 11 weeks, the mice that got water spiked with whey protein (a type of protein found naturally in dairy) packed on 42 percent less weight and nearly a third less body fat than the mice who just drank plain water, despite the fact that they ate roughly the same number of calories. What’s more, the whey eaters also gained 7 percent more lean body mass.
Howard Shertzer, Ph.D., the study’s lead researcher and a professor of molecular toxicology at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, hypothesizes that whey protein is beneficial because its unique combination of amino acids (protein building blocks) may block fat from being metabolized and so prevent some fat from being stored and weight gained. The extra amino acids also helped build muscle.
To incorporate whey protein into your diet in an amount equivalent to what the mice got, you’d likely have to take a supplement (such as protein powders or whey-based protein bars). To get some whey protein naturally, go with ricotta, milk and yogurt, all good sources.—Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D.