If Little Miss Muffet ever got off her tuffet and tried to lose a few pounds, she’d be better off than other people, especially those who eat curds and, say, soy. Whey protein is better than soy protein or carb supplementation at helping dieters keep the muscle while they lose the fat, according to new research published in the Journal of Nutrition.
During the double-blind study, researchers studied 40 overweight or obese people who received supplements of whey protein, soy protein or carbohydrate as part of their reduced calorie diet. While it’s normal to see a decline in muscle protein synthesis (MPS) during a time of caloric restriction, the whey protein supplement preserved protein synthesis to a significantly greater degree than the other supplements, according to a release from the Whey Protein Research Consortium, which helped fund the study. Specifically, the MPS rate was reduced by nine percent in the whey group, compared to a reduction of 28 percent in the soy supplement group and the 31 percent reduction in the carbohydrate supplement group.
“The greatest metabolic health benefits resulting from weight loss would be achieved with retention of muscle and a loss of fat,” Stuart Phillips, PhD, FACSM, FACN, the study’s senior author, said in the release. “Although higher protein diets have been shown to promote retention of muscle during weight loss, many protein sources are known to affect MPS differently. A single amino acid from protein—known as leucine—may be the reason why certain proteins are more or less effective in stimulating MPS. In our study, we showed that whey, but not soy, protein preserved the MPS response during weight loss. These results may not be surprising when one considers whey has more leucine than soy. Our results indicate whey would be effective at promoting the retention of muscle when people are trying to lose weight.”
Last year, a meta-analysis of research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition suggested whey protein, either as a supplement combined with resistance exercise or as part of a weight-loss or weight-maintenance diet, may lead to significant decreases in body weight and body fat and significant increases in lean body mass.
It seems that with her diet of whey, Miss Muffet might have been able to outrun that spider after all.