Maintaining Lean Muscle During Weight Loss

By Wendy Wells, NMD.

Researchers from the Justus Liebig University of Giessen, Germany, have demonstrated how whey protein promotes lean muscle mass, which in turn enhances physical function in older women. Their double-blind randomized clinical trials found that a diets using increased amounts of protein worked better than diets higher in carbohydrates for women aged 65 (± 4.6 years) with an average body mass index 33.7.

25 grams of Whey Protein Twice a Day Shows Results

In this study, a reduced calorie diet of 1,400 calories per day consisting of 15% protein, 65% carbohydrates and 30% fat was compared to the same diet that included an additional added 25 grams of whey protein powder. The protein group added 5.8% more muscle, while dropping 3.8% of their fat tissue. Their work was published in the Journal of Gerontology, Nov. 2011. PMID: 21798863

Who's At Risk?

Almost 40% of all adults in the United States are obese according to obesity dataExit Site compiled by the Center of Disease Control.

On average worldwide obesity has tripled in the last 40 years. Prior to 1980, less than one in ten people fit the definition of obesity. By 2020 more than two/thirds of people in the United States will be identified as overweight or obese.

For techinical definitions see Body Mass Index (BMI) chart to determine your score. Greater than 25 is considered overweight. More than 30 is considered obese.

Metabolic syndrome is a combined set of conditions affecting obesity that dramatically increase coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes risks.

Metabolic Syndrome symptoms include:

Researchers suggest treating metabolic syndrome by losing weight in the following ways: [1]

Meta-Study Overview

A Curtin UniversityExit Site meta-study consisted of published research from 1970-2012. It revealed that a diets including whey protein powder appear to reduce obesity while maintaining lean mass. This, in turn, increases thermogenesis in the body. Furthermore, whey protein powder and its bioactive constituents were found to offer greater benefits when compared to egg or casein proteins. [2]

Whey protein has been shown to:

Suggested whey dosage amounts are about 20 grams per scoop. This can be divided into smaller amounts, taken throughout the day as needed, for increased absorption.


  1. Metabolic Syndrome. Full text: PMH:0004546

  2. The Effects of Whey Protein on Cardio-metabolic Risk Factors. Obesity Review Journal, Nov. 2012. PMID:23167434

  3. Protein Ingestion Increases Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis after Concurrent Exercise. PMID:24870574
  4. Timed-daily Ingestion of Whey Protein and Exercise Training Reduces Visceral Adipose Tissue Mass and Improves Insulin Resistance PMID:24833780
  5. Comparative effects of whey and casein proteins on satiety in overweight and obese individuals PMID:24801369

Wendy Wells

Author Wendy Wells is a licensed naturopathic physician in the state of Arizona.
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