Whey protein is one of the most popular protein supplements on the market. Probably because protein is one of the most important micronutrients needed by the body. Whey protein is usually available in powder form and can be easily added to healthy beverages to increase your daily protein intake. Recent research suggests that when combined with daily exercise, whey protein can be an effective weight loss strategy.
Whey is actually a by-product of milk, which is left behind during the manufacturing of cheese. Whey is considered to be a high-quality protein, as it is a complete protein with all 22 amino acids that our bodies require from external sources. Studies have suggested that regular consumption of whey protein can help you bulk up your muscle mass, while losing fat.
Protein is the key. The moment you take that first bite, protein starts slimming your waistline. High-protein foods take more work to digest, metabolize, and use, which means you burn more calories processing them. They also take longer to leave your stomach, so you feel full sooner and for a longer amount of time. The cumulative effect has obvious benefits for anyone who is watching their weight.
In a study published in Nutrition Metabolism, dieters who increased their protein intake to 30 percent of their diet ate nearly 450 fewer calories a day and lost about 11 pounds over the 12-week study without using any other dietary measures. And, if you’re burning calories as well as counting them, protein is doubly essential for making sure you lose fat, not muscle. Your body uses the amino acids in protein to build lean muscle, which not only makes you stronger and more toned but also cuts calories even when you’re not active—unlike fat. Ultimately, this keeps your metabolism cruising along at a high speed so you can even burn off the occasional cookie!
A Johns Hopkins University study found that a diet in which roughly a quarter of the calories (about 60 percent more than the recommended 10 to 15 percent) come from lean protein sources reduced blood pressure, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, and triglycerides better than a traditional higher-carb diet. Other research finds that diets rich in protein can help prevent obesity, osteoporosis, and diabetes.
Because whey protein curbs your appetite, it can help you stick to a low-calorie diet for weight loss. In a small study published in Appetite researchers evaluated the hunger of 10 male athletes who performed both endurance and resistance training and drank whey protein one hour after a standard breakfast. Compared to the days when they went without the protein, the participants had a significant decrease in hunger sensations at subsequent meals after drinking the whey.
While whey protein shakes can help you lose weight, it’s not a good idea to make them your only strategy. You should still work out with weights and get your heart pumping to burn calories and encourage lean muscle mass retention. Whey protein is a complement to exercise, not a replacement for it.