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Does Whey Protein Help With Weight Loss? | Ask The Fitness Nerd

Posted Nov 22 2008 9:36pm

Is the whey protein-weight loss connection fact or fiction? Find out from the Fitness Nerd if using whey protein for weight loss is “yeah” or “nay. “

Dear Fitness Nerd,

I have a question for you around whey protein and weight loss. Image of Woman Measuring Her Waist After Supplementing With Whey Protein

I would consider myself to be pretty fit. I lift weights, run and do Body Pump and am pretty lean already, although I don’t know my exact body fat right now.  I’d really like to make this the year that I get flat abs, but I still have some belly fat I’d like to make go away. Nothing major, just a little “pooch” and a smidge more side and back fat than I want …. we’re not talking a muffin top or anything like that though.

My girlfriend suggested that I try drinking more whey protein to lose weight. Her boyfriend is in really good shape and drinks a ton of protein shakes and she seems to believe that’s why he is so lean. She’s in great shape herself and uses a lot of whey protein, so I’m inclined to believe her.

What are your thoughts here?  I really just want to lose those last couple of lbs of belly fat. I’m fairly tall and already prettytoned, it’s just my damn belly that I want to tighten up. Can whey protein help with this?

By the way, I already drink whey protein powder once a day in soy milk, usually in the morning and sometimes after I work out.  Thanks for your time. Alicia (Long Island, NY)

Alicia, this question pops up a lot on discussion boards and in places like Yahoo Answers and Yedda.  So you’re not the only one who is trying to figure out if there is really a connection between whey protein and weight loss.  I probably see a variation on your question at least 2-3 times a week.

There are definitely a lot of “opinions” floating around out there around whey protein for weight loss. There’s some truth to them, but they are also tied up in a lot of myths, as well. So the trick is to understand exactly what whey protein is (and isn’t) so you can come to your own conclusions based on the facts.

What Is Whey Protein?

Whey is just a form of protein that is naturally-present in diary products like skim milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc. If you drink a glass of milk, you are already consuming some whey proteins. The whey protein that you are talking about is in a powdered form. Basically, the manufacturer takes liquid whey and “dries it”, making whey protein powder – a form of whey that is portable and easy to reconstitute.

So What Does Whey Protein Do For A Person?

The main benefit to whey protein is that it is easily and quickly digested by the body.

The body is also able to quickly utilize most of the amino acids in whey protein to help with tissue repair and recovery after exercise.  The protein in whey has a high biological value (BV), meaning it’s easily absorbed by the body. Unlike other proteins, like casein (another form of protein in milk), the speed at which whey protein is digested makes it an ideal source of protein immediately following workouts when your body needs amino acids quickly to aid with recovery.

Whey protein, especially whey protein isolate (an even more concentrated form of whey protein vs. whey protein concentrate), is also very low in fat and carbohydrates. This is because the refinement process used to create whey protein powder removes nearly all of the fat and sugars in the liquid, leaving a final product that is almost 100% protein by volume.  So this makes whey protein popular among dieters and people who are trying to limit carbohydrates or fat in their diet.

Whey protein has other properties that may have health benefits, including the presence of certain biologically active compounds that may improve immunity and even stave off muscle wasting. However, the main reason people consume whey protein is to encourage lean muscle growth and sometimes as a meal replacement.

Using Whey Protein For Weight Loss

Okay, now that you know what whey protein is, let’s tackle your question about whey protein and weight loss.

First, it’s important to understand that there is nothing particularly magical about whey protein that will directly cause you to melt off that last pound or two of belly fat and get abs like Jessica Biel. Whey protein is not an anabolic steroid — it’s a food.

In fact, the goal of drinking whey protein is usually to add weight (in the form of additional muscle), not to lose it

That said, because your real goal here isn’t to lose scale weight, but to lose body fat and change your body fat percentage to favor lean tissue, including some additional whey protein in your diet could help you become leaner overall … and yes, that would probably include losing some belly fat.

(more…)

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