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Women and Whey Protein

September 15, 2015
Women and Whey Protein

As a coach/trainer, I’m always bombarded with questions on how whey protein supplements play a role for women. Here I want to discuss why women don’t get fat on whey protein plus 3 other myths I’d like to dispel. Let’s jump into it!

MYTH #1 – Whey is going to make me fat!

A recent study found that whey protein supplementation can aid in weight DECREASES in men and women, whereas soy protein sources and carbohydrate-dense supplements did not lead to any significant weight loss. Specifically, waist circumference (WC) was smaller in the Whey Protein consuming individuals. Waist circumference is a major risk factor for cardio vascular disease and diabetes.

Also, whey protein supplementation led to dietary decreases in carbohydrate consumption due to increased satiation (you felt full longer!). This can be interpreted as consuming a whey protein, specifically post workout, will aid in improving your diet overall and help you lose weight and lean out. (Baer et al, 2011)

Another study analyzing the effects of low to high protein diets on weight storage found that individuals on a lower protein diet are more likely to store excess calories as fat instead of burning off the stored energy. (Bray et al, 2012)

MYTH #2 – Whey is going to make me bulky!

A common concern with women and whey protein is the fear of gaining muscle mass. Muscle mass increases are a direct result of training and calorie intake: training specific muscles for a large number of repetitions with a slow tempo and following it up with eating a substantial amount of food such as potatoes and milk will cause bulking up. However, training with heavier weights for less reps and finishing the workout with a whey protein made gaining muscle mass ‘bulkiness’ much less likely. Why?

High-intensity exercise (like CrossFit) allows for Increased Glucose Transport (INGT) into the muscle cells within a short period (30 minutes) post workout. In this time period, consuming a whey protein shake will help repair muscle damage more efficiently: therefore less of the caloric intake will go towards muscle bulking. This implies that a whey protein shake post workout will help muscles repair FASTER and BETTER and improve performance on the next workout as well as aid in leaning out and looking great.

MYTH #3 – I’ve heard Whey protein is not good for my long-term health!

I’ve heard this one too many times. It is becoming an old-wives tale that supplements are bad for the liver and kidneys when used for a long period. For some supplements, this is potentially true. However, for the essential supplements this is anything but true. There is evidence supporting that whey protein (not even considering a hormone free whey protein derived from a grass-fed source) can aid in organ function of the liver, brain and vascular system as well as help protect our bodies from cancer, stress and hepatitis. One study found that protein supplements increase bone density in the lumbar column, helping prevent osteoporosis, a major risk in women (Aoe et al, 2001).

I don’t really care about my muscles!

What?! As mentioned above, whey protein has many other benefits besides helping to repair damaged muscles. As a living organism, human bodies undergo oxidative stress at all hours of the day. Oxidative stress levels are increased during bouts of intense exercise and whey protein post workout will aid in minimizing oxidative stress. This allows all body tissues to avoid degradation and maintain optimum health for more years.
I should replace my meals with whey protein shakes?

Falling into this common trap of the modern day health food industry is easy and a sure way to impede weight loss results. Liquid food should never replace a solid food meal if the main goal is weight loss. The only time the body is best adapted to liquid food is post workout when INGT (Increased Glucose Transport) is at its highest (see above).

The way that the human digestive system has evolved, liquid foods get absorbed faster and causes an increased insulin spike regardless of the macronutrient breakdown and glycemic load compared to solid food. Therefore, if solid food meals start being replaced by liquid food whether it is a healthier smoothie or “lose-weight shakes,” the human body will interpret that as a signal to GAIN WEIGHT. Please avoid liquid food outside of your post-workout whey protein if your goal is to lose weight and lean out.

In a nutshell…

• Whey protein is the only protein supplement that has shown to aid in weight loss
• Whey protein post workout does not automatically increase muscle mass or weight gain due to INGT
• Whey protein helps protect the body from many other ailments like osteoporosis
• There are other benefits to whey protein such as minimizing oxidative stress
• Never replace a solid food meal with whey protein

References for further reading? Check ’em out below. Questions or comments? Post a comment and I’ll follow up!

  1. Aoe, S., Toba, Y., Yamamura, J., Kawakami, H., Yahiro, M., Kumegawa, M., Itabashi, A. & Takada, Y. (2001) Controlled trial of the effects of Milk Basic Protein (MBP) supplementation on bone metabolism in healthy adult women. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. 65. 913-918.
  2. Baer, D.J. (2011) Whey protein but not soy protein supplementation alters body weight and composition in free-living overweight and obese adults. The Journal of Nutrition. 141. 1489-1494.
  3. Bray, G.A., Smith, S.R., de Jonge, L., Xie, H., Rood, J., Martin, C.K., Most, M., Brock, C., Mancuso, S. & Redman, L.M. (2012) Effect of Dietary Protein Content of Weight Gain, Energy Expenditure, and Body Composition During Overeating. Journal of American Medical AssociationI. 307. 47-55.
  4. Lee, A.D., Hansen, P.A., Schluter, J., Gulve, E.A., Gao, J. & Holloszy, J.O. (1997) Effects of epinephrine on insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and GLUT-4 phosphorylation in muscle. Cell Physiology. 273.
  5. Perseghin, G., Price, T.B., Petersen, K.F., Roden, M.D., Cline, G.W., Gerow, K., Rothman, D.L., & Shulman, G.I. (1996) Increased Glucose Transport-phosphorylation and muscle glycogen synthesis after exercise training in insulin-resistant subjects. New England Journal of Medicine. 335. 1357-1362.
  6. Rivière, D, Crampes F, Beauville M, and Garrigues M. (1989) Lipolytic response of fat cells to catecholamines in sedentary and exercise-trained women. Journal of Applied Physiology. 66. 330- 335.
  7. Rose, A.J. & Richter, E.A. (2005) Skeletal muscle glucose uptake during exercise: how is it regulated? Physiological. 20. 260-270.
  8. Tipton, K.D. (2008) Protein for adaptations to exercise training. European Journal of Sport Science. 8. 107-118.
Feel Form Function Lifestyle

You are the Independent Variable

August 31, 2015

Every journey has its fair share of challenges. We just chose to embrace a certain type of attitude. The Never Give Up, Back Down, or Stay Down, type of attitude; the Never Too Early, Never Too Late, type of attitude; the Sun Ain’t Rising Before Me, type of attitude.

You know the feeling.

The challenges in the gym, the boardroom, the office politics, the bad break up—those are the constants.

The outcome is 100% attitude.

You are the independent variable, YOU are (X).

Form Nutrition

Women and Whey Protein – Increased Satiation

March 19, 2015
Women and Whey Protein Increased Satiation

Women should not fear whey protein. Many women are afraid that resistance training and protein powders will result in bulking and increased muscle mass: the equation is not that simple. We have recently learned through research out of Massey University in New Zealand that women who consumed whey protein beverages actually had more hunger suppression, mediated by a natural hormonal response.

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3 Ways to prevent holiday weight gain

October 31, 2014
Prevent Weight Gain

Today is Halloween, you know what that means…the holidays have officially started! Holiday weight gain is commonly accepted as a fact of life during the holiday season, but it doesn’t have to be! Even though you may not think it, you can actually balance a healthy lifestyle and enjoy the holidays without insane restriction. The goal this year is to break the holiday weight gain/weight loss cycle by being mindful and staying focused with these strategies.

Practice Intuitive Eating- Intuitive eating is a style of eating that promotes mindful eating. We eat for many reasons including hunger, performance, and enjoyment. I’m not a huge fan of counting every calorie or restriction. Instead, I work with clients in my private practice to help them achieve their health goals by tuning into what their bodies are telling them their real needs are. For more tips on intuitive eating check out this post- Healthy Habits to Master Before the Holidays

Set a Fitness Goal for January- Instead of waiting until January to make your New Years resolution, set one now! Not only will training help you burn extra calories, but it will also keep you in the healthy mindset, which will help you make better choices throughout the holiday season. You could pick one exercise, a WOD, or whatever combination you choose.

Possible goals could be focused on:

• Strength
• Speed
• Mileage/Distance
• Performance
• Mobility

Stay Accountable- Signing up for a competition or race in January is one way to hold yourself accountable. Another is to buddy up with a friend who wants to work on a similar goal. You can help each other stay motivated to be consistent with your workouts during the holiday season and achieve your goals! You can also make it a friendly competition if that’s more motivating to you.

I’m signed up to run a ½ marathon in January, but since my distance running has been rocky since getting injured I’m setting a back up goal of being able to do an unassisted pull up by the end of January.

Your turn! Announce your goal publicly to fully commit to it! We will check back in January and see how you did!