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    The Whey to Weight Loss
    Copyright © 2006, Will Brink

    Regular readers of my work have come to expect articles about the 
    power of whey proteins to potentaily fight cancer and improve 
    immunity among its many benefits. The ability of whey to fight 
    cancer, improve glutathione levels and immunity, is well 
    documented (readers interested in brushing up on the effects of 
    whey on cancer, immunity, etc, can read previous articles by me 
    at the LEF's web site: www.lef.org and www.BrinkZone.com).
    Additional research suggests possible medical uses for whey that 
    are quite unexpected and different from whey's traditional role 
    as an immune booster and anti cancer functional food. For 
    example, whey may be able to reduce stress and lower cortisol and 
    increase brain serotonin levels, improve liver function in those 
    suffering from certain forms of hepatitis, reduce blood pressure, 
    as well as other amazing recent discoveries, such as whey's 
    possible effects on weight loss, which is the focus of this 
    What Is Whey?
    When we talk about whey we are actually referring to a complex 
    milk-based ingredient made up of protein, lactose, fat and 
    minerals. Protein is the best-known component of whey and is 
    made up of many smaller protein subfractions such as: Beta-
    lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, immunoglobulins (IgGs), 
    glycomacropeptides, bovine serum albumin (BSA) and minor peptides 
    such as lactoperoxidases, lysozyme and lactoferrin.
    Each of the subfractions found in whey has its own unique 
    biological properties. Modern filtering technology has improved 
    dramatically in the past decade, allowing companies to separate 
    some of the highly bioactive peptides - such as lactoferrin and 
    lactoperoxidase - from whey.
    Some of these subfractions are only found in very minute amounts 
    in cow's milk, normally at less than one percent (e.g., 
    lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase, etc.)
    The medicinal properties of whey have been known for centuries. 
    For example, an expression from Florence, Italy. Circa 1650, was 
    "Chi vuol viver sano e lesto beve scotta e cena presto" which 
    translates into English as "If you want to live a healthy and 
    active life, drink whey and dine early."
    Another expression from Italy regarding the benefits of whey 
    (circa 1777) was "Allevato con la scotta il dottore e in 
    bancarotta." Which translates into English "If everyone were 
    raised on whey, doctors would be bankrupt."
    Is whey a weight loss functional food?
    A few years ago, I might have said no. Now I am not so sure. 
    Although there was a smattering of studies suggesting whey had 
    certain properties that might assist with weight loss, a number 
    of recent studies appear to further support the use of whey as 
    a possible weight loss supplement. Most interesting - at least 
    to nerds like me - the effect appears to be not by a single 
    mechanism, but several. This article will briefly explore a few 
    possible pathways by which whey may assist the dieter.
    "I'm Hungry!"
    Human hunger and appetite are regulated by a phenomenally 
    complicated set of overlapping feedback networks, involving a 
    long list of hormones, psychological factors as well as 
    physiological factors, all of which are still being elucidated. 
    It's a very intensive area of research right now, with various 
    pharmaceutical companies looking for that "magic bullet" weight 
    loss breakthrough they can bring to market.
    One hormone getting attention by researchers looking for possible 
    solutions to obesity is cholecystokinin (CCK). Several decades 
    ago, researchers found CCK largely responsible for the feeling 
    of fullness or satiety experienced after a meal and partially 
    controls appetite, at least in the short term.
    Cholecystokinin (CCK) is a small peptide with multiple functions 
    in both the central nervous system and the periphery (via CCK-B 
    and CCK-A receptors respectively). Along with other hormones, 
    such as pancreatic glucagon, bombesin, glucagon-like peptide-1, 
    amide (GLP-1), oxyntomodulin, peptide YY (PYY) and pancreatic 
    polypeptide (PP)., CCK is released by ingested food from the 
    gastrointestinal tract and mediates satiety after meals.
    Such a list would not be complete without at least making mention 
    of what many researchers consider the "master hormones" in this 
    milieu, which is insulin and leptin. If that's not confusing 
    enough, release of these hormones depends on the concentration 
    and composition of the nutrients ingested.
    That is, the type of nutrients (i.e., fat, protein, and 
    carbohydrates) eaten, the amount of each eaten, and composition 
    of the meal, all effect which hormones are released and in 
    what amounts... Needless to say, it's a topic that gets real 
    complicated real fast and the exact roles of all the variables is 
    far from fully understood at this time, though huge strides have 
    been made recently.
    Whey's Effects On Food Intake.
    This (finally!) brings us to whey protein. Whey may have some 
    unique effects on food intake via its effects on CCK and other 
    pathways. Many studies have shown that protein is the most 
    satiating macro-nutrient. However, it also appears all proteins 
    may not be created equal in this respect.
    For example, two studies using human volunteers compared whey vs. 
    casein (another milk based protein) on appetite, CCK, and other 
    hormones (Hall WL, Millward DJ, Long SJ, Morgan LM.Casein and 
    whey exert different effects on plasma amino acid profiles, 
    gastrointestinal hormone secretion and appetite. Br J Nutr. 2003 
    The first study found that energy intake from a buffet meal ad 
    libitum was significantly less 90 minutes after a liquid meal 
    containing whey, compared with an equivalent amount of casein 
    given 90 minutes before the volunteers were allowed to eat all 
    they wanted (ad libitum) at the buffet. In the second study, the 
    same whey preload led to a plasma CCK increase of 60 % ( in 
    addition to large increases in glucagon-like peptide [GLP]-1 and 
    glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide) following the whey 
    preload compared with the casein.
    Translated, taking whey before people were allowed to eat all 
    they wanted (ad libitum) at a buffet showed a decrease in the 
    amount of calories they ate as well as substantial increases in 
    CCK compared to casein. Subjectively, it was found there was 
    greater satiety followed the whey meal also.
    The researchers concluded "These results implicate post-
    absorptive increases in plasma amino acids together with both 
    CCK and GLP-1 as potential mediators of the increased satiety 
    response to whey and emphasize the importance of considering the 
    impact of protein type on the appetite response to a mixed meal." 
    Several animal studies also find whey appears to have a 
    pronounced effect on CCK and or satiety over other protein 
    It should be noted however that not all studies have found the 
    effect of whey vs. other protein sources on food intake (Bowen J, 
    Noakes M, Clifton P, Jenkins A, Batterham M.Acute effect of 
    dietary proteins on appetite, energy intake and glycemic response 
    in overweight men. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2004;13(Suppl):S64.).
    It should also be noted that although studies find protein to 
    be the most satiating of the macro-nutrients, certain protein 
    sources (e.g. egg whites) may actually increase appetite 
    (Anderson GH, Tecimer SN, Shah D, Zafar TA. Protein source, 
    quantity, and time of consumption determine the effect of 
    proteins on short-term food intake in young men. J Nutr. 2004 
    Nov;134(11):3011-5.), so protein sources appear worth considering 
    when looking to maximize weight loss and suppress appetite.
    How whey achieves this effect is not fully understood, but 
    research suggests it's due to whey's high glycomacropeptide 
    and alpha-lactalbumin content, as well as its high solubility 
    compared to other proteins, and perhaps it's high percentage 
    of branch chain amino acids (BCAA's).
    Whey's Effects On Bodyfat, Insulin Sensitivity, And Fat 
    Burning... .
    So we have some studies suggesting whey may have some unique 
    effects on hormones involved in satiety and or may reduce energy 
    (calorie) intake of subsequent meals, but do we have studies 
    showing direct effects of whey vs. other proteins on weight loss? 
    In animals at least, whey has looked like a promising supplement 
    for weight loss.
    Although higher protein diets have been found to improve insulin 
    sensitivity, and may be superior for weight loss (with some 
    debate!) then higher carbohydrate lower protein diets, it's 
    unclear if all proteins have the same effects.
    One study compared whey to beef (Damien P. Belobrajdic,, Graeme 
    H. McIntosh, and Julie A. Owens. A High-Whey-Protein Diet Reduces 
    Body Weight Gain and Alters Insulin Sensitivity Relative to Red 
    Meat in Wistar Rats. J. Nutr. 134:1454-1458, June 2004) and found 
    whey reduced body weight and tissue lipid levels and increased 
    insulin sensitivity compared to red meat.
    Rats were fed a high-fat diet for nine weeks, then switched to a 
    diet containing either whey or beef for an additional six weeks. 
    As has generally been found in other studies, the move to a high 
    dietary protein reduced energy intake (due to the known satiating 
    effects of protein compared to carbs or fat), as well as 
    reductions in visceral and subcutaneous bodyfat.
    However, the rats getting the whey, there was a 40% reduction in 
    plasma insulin concentrations and increased insulin sensitivity 
    compared to the red meat. Not surprisingly, the researchers 
    concluded "These findings support the conclusions that a high-
    protein diet reduces energy intake and adiposity and that whey 
    protein is more effective than red meat in reducing body weight 
    gain and increasing insulin sensitivity."
    Other studies suggest taking whey before a workout is superior 
    for preserving/gaining lean body mass (LBM) and maintaining fat 
    burning (beta oxidation) during exercise over other foods taken 
    prior to a workout. The study called "A preexercise lactalbumin-
    enriched whey protein meal preserves lipid oxidation and 
    decreases adiposity in rats" (Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 283: 
    E565-E572, 2002.) came to some very interesting conclusions.
    One thing we have known a long time is the composition of the 
    pre-exercise meal will affect substrate utilization during 
    exercise and thus might affect long-term changes in body weight 
    and composition. That is, depending on what you eat before you 
    workout can dictate what you use for energy (i.e. carbs, fats, 
    and or proteins) which alters what you burn (oxidize) for energy.
    The researchers took groups of rats and made the poor buggers 
    exercise two hours daily for over five weeks (talk about over 
    training!), either in the fasted state or one hour after they 
    ingested a meal enriched with a simple sugar (glucose), whole 
    milk protein or whey protein.
    The results were quite telling. Compared with fasting (no food), 
    the glucose meal increased glucose oxidation and decreased lipid 
    oxidation during and after exercise. Translated, they burned 
    sugar over body fat for their energy source. In contrast, the 
    whole milk protein and whey meals preserved lipid oxidation 
    and increased protein oxidation. Translated, fat burning was 
    maintained and they also used protein as a fuel source.
    Not surprisingly, the whey meal increased protein oxidation more 
    than the whole milk protein meal, most likely due to the fact 
    that whey is considered a "fast" protein that is absorbed rapidly 
    due to it's high solubility.
    As one would expect, by the end of the five weeks, body weight 
    was greater in the glucose, whole milk protein and whey fed rats 
    than in the fasted ones. No shock there. Here is where it gets 
    interesting: In the group getting the glucose or the whole milk 
    protein, the increase in weight was from bodyfat, but in the whey 
    fed group, the increase in weight was from an increase in muscle 
    mass and a decrease in bodyfat!
    Only the rats getting the whey before their workout increased 
    muscle mass and decreased their bodyfat. The researchers 
    theorized this was due to whey's ability to rapidly deliver 
    amino acids during exercise. Is this the next big find in sports 
    nutrition or those simply looking to preserve muscle mass loss 
    due to aging?
    Hard to say at this time being it was done in rats, but if it 
    turns out to be true in humans (and there is no reason people 
    can't try it now) it would indeed be a breakthrough in the quest 
    to add muscle and lose fat.
    Effects On Serotonin, Blood Sugar Regulation, And More!
    Although the above would probably be the major mechanisms by 
    which whey could help the dieter, there are several secondary 
    effects of whey that may assist in weight loss. For example, 
    whey's effects on serotonin levels. Serotonin is probably the 
    most studied neurotransmitter since it has been found to be 
    involved in a wide range of psychological and biological 
    functions. Serotonin ( also called 5-hydroxytryptamine or 
    5-HT) is involved with mood, anxiety, and appetite.
    Elevated levels of serotonin can cause relaxation and reduced 
    anxiety. Low serotonin levels are associated with low mood, 
    increased anxiety (hence the current popularity of the SSRI drugs 
    such as Prozac and others), and poor appetite control. This is an 
    extremely abbreviated description of all the functions serotonin 
    performs in the human body - many of which have yet to be fully 
    elucidated - but a full explanation is beyond the scope of this 
    Needless to say, Increased brain serotonin levels are associated 
    with an improved ability of people to cope with stress, whereas a 
    decline in serotonin activity is associated with depression and 
    anxiety. Elevated levels of serotonin in the body often result in 
    the relief of depression, as well as substantial reduction in 
    pain sensitivity, anxiety and stress. It has also been theorized 
    that a diet-induced increase in tryptophan will increase brain 
    serotonin levels, while a diet designed for weight loss (e.g., a 
    diet that reduces calories) may lead to a reduction of brain 
    serotonin levels due to reduced substrate for production and a 
    reduction in carbohydrates.
    Many people on a reduced calorie intake in an attempt to lose 
    weight find they are often ill tempered and more anxious. 
    Reductions in serotonin may be partially to blame here. One 
    recent study (The bovine protein alpha-lactalbumin increases 
    the plasma ratio of tryptophan to the other large neutral amino 
    acids, and in vulnerable subjects raises brain serotonin 
    activity, reduces cortisol concentration, and improves mood under 
    stress. Am J Clin Nutr 2000 Jun;71(6):1536-1544) examined whether 
    alpha-lactalbumin - a major sub fraction found in whey which has 
    an especially high tryptophan content - would increase plasma 
    Tryptophan levels as well reduce depression and cortisol 
    concentrations in subjects under acute stress considered to be 
    vulnerable to stress.
    The researchers examined twenty-nine "highly stress-vulnerable 
    subjects" and 29 "relatively stress-invulnerable" subjects using 
    a double blind, placebo-controlled study design. The study 
    participants were exposed to experimental stress after eating a 
    diet enriched with either alpha-lactalbumin (found in whey) or 
    sodium-caseinate, another milk based protein. They researchers 
    looked at:
     * Diet-induced changes in the plasma Tryptophan and its ratio 
       to other large neutral amino acids. 
     * Prolactin levels. 
     * Changes in mood and pulse rate. 
     * Cortisol levels (which were assessed before and after the 
    Amazingly, the ratio of plasma Tryptophan to the other amino 
    acids tested was 48% higher after the alpha-lactalbumin diet than 
    after the casein diet! This was accompanied by a decrease in 
    cortisol levels and higher prolactin concentration. Perhaps most 
    important and relevant to the average person reading this 
    article, they found "reduced depressive feelings" when test 
    subjects were put under stress.
    They concluded that the "Consumption of a dietary protein 
    enriched in tryptophan increased the plasma Trp-LNAA ratio and, 
    in stress-vulnerable subjects, improved coping ability, probably 
    through alterations in brain serotonin." This effect was not seen 
    in the sodium-caseinate group. If other studies can confirm these 
    findings, whey may turn out to be yet another safe and effective 
    supplement in the battle against depression and stress, as well 
    as reduced serotonin levels due to dieting.
    Although there is a long list of hormones involved in appetite 
    regulation, some of which have been mentioned above, serotonin 
    appears to be a key player in the game. In general, experiments 
    find increased serotonin availability or activity = reduced food 
    consumption and decreased serotonin = increase food consumption. 
    If whey can selectively increase serotonin levels above that of 
    other proteins, it could be very helpful to the dieter.
    Other possible advantages whey may confer to the dieter is 
    improved blood sugar regulation (Frid AH, Nilsson M, Holst JJ, 
    Bjorck IM. Effect of whey on blood glucose and insulin responses 
    to composite breakfast and lunch meals in type 2 diabetic 
    subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jul;82(1):69-75.) which is yet 
    another key area in controlling appetite and metabolism.
    Finally, calcium from dairy products has been found to be 
    associated with a reduction in bodyweight and fat mass. Calcium 
    is thought to influence energy metabolism as intracellular 
    calcium regulates fat cell (adipocyte) lipid metabolism as well 
    as triglyceride storage. It's been demonstrated in several 
    studies the superiority of dairy versus non-dairy sources of 
    calcium for improving body composition, and the whey fraction 
    of dairy maybe the key.
    The mechanism responsible for increased fat loss found with 
    dairy-based calcium versus nondairy calcium has not is not fully 
    understood but researchers looking at the issue theorized "... 
    dairy sources of calcium markedly attenuate weight and fat gain 
    and accelerate fat loss to a greater degree than do supplemental 
    sources of calcium. This augmented effect of dairy products 
    relative to supplemental calcium is likely due to additional 
    bioactive compounds, including the angiotensin-converting enzyme 
    inhibitors and the rich concentration of branched-chain amino 
    acids in whey, which act synergistically with calcium to 
    attenuate adiposity."
    It appears components in whey - some of which have been mentioned 
    above - are thought to act synergistically with calcium to 
    improve body composition (Zemel MB. Role of calcium and dairy 
    products in energy partitioning and weight management. Am J Clin 
    Nutr. 2004 May;79(5):907S-912S.).
    Taken in isolation, none of these studies are so compelling that 
    people should run out and use whey as some form of weight loss 
    nirvana. However, taken as a total picture, the bulk of the 
    research seems to conclude that whey may in fact have some unique 
    effects for weight loss and should be of great use to the dieter. 
    More studies are clearly needed however.
    So what is the practical application of all this information and 
    how does the dieter put it to good use? Being the appetite 
    suppressing effects of whey appear to last approximately 2-3 
    hours, it would seem best to stagger the intake throughout the 
    day. For example, breakfast might be 1-2 scoops of whey and a 
    bowl of oatmeal, and perhaps a few scoops of whey taken between 
    lunch and dinner.
    If whey does what the data suggests it does in the above, that 
    should be the most effective method for maximizing the effects of 
    whey on food (calorie) intake on subsequent meals as well as the 
    other metabolic effects covered. If working out, the schedule may 
    be different however and people should follow the pre and post 
    nutrition recommendations made in my ebook "Muscle Building 
    Nutrition" or advice easily found on the 'net via the many sports 
    nutrition and bodybuilding related web sites.
    * Ebook can be found at: http://www.musclebuildingnutrition.com 
    Additional References Of Interest: 
    Curzon G.Serotonin and appetite.Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1990;600:521-
    30; discussion 530-1.
    Pierson ME, Comstock JM, Simmons RD, Kaiser F, Julien R, Zongrone 
    J, Rosamond JD. Synthesis and biological evaluation of potent, 
    selective, hexapeptide CCK-A agonist anorectic agents. J Med Chem 
    1997 Dec 19;40(26):4302-7
    Blundell JE, King NA. Overconsumption as a cause of weight gain: 
    behavioural-physiological interactions in the control of food 
    intake (appetite). Ciba Found Symp 1996;201:138-54; discussion 
    154-8, 188-93
    Zittel TT, von Elm B, Teichmann RK, Rabould HE, Becker HD. 
    Cholecystokinin is partly responsible for reduced food intake and 
    body weight loss after total gastrectomy in rats. Am J Surg 1995 
    Smith GP, Gibbs J. Are gut peptides a new class of anorectic 
    agents? Am J Clin Nutr 1992 Jan;55(1 Suppl):283S-285S 
    Strader AD, Woods SC. Gastrointestinal hormones and food intake. 
    Gastroenterology. 2005 Jan;128(1):175-91.

    Writer's Resource Box:
    Will Brink writes for numerous health, fitness, medical, and 
    bodybuilding publications. His articles can be found in Life 
    Extension Magazine, Muscle n Fitness, Inside Karate, Exercise 
    For Men Only, Oxygen, Women's World, The Townsend Letter For 
    Doctors and many more. His website is http://www.brinkzone.com
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