By Michael Roussell, PhD ProSource
Protein is an essential component to any bodybuilders' diet. It provides the building blocks for sculpting muscles during mass phases and it provides amino acids to the body such that your system will use them instead of breaking down your hard earned muscle for fuel. While we all know that protein is key for getting the physique we want, many athletes have underestimated the role protein can play as a fat loss tool -- specifically one advanced source of protein.
Let's look at the effect of whey protein (the standard go-to protein supplement) and then a study involving Prolibra (found in ProSource's Vectron), a unique patented protein supplement consisting of leucine-rich whey protein peptides and minerals.
Fat Loss Hormones
While we usually think of whey protein as being key for muscle growth, studies consistently show that increased protein leads to greater weight loss and improvements in body composition. This is partly due to the impact of displacing excess carbohydrates in the diet when protein is increased, but it also may be due to protein's ability to modulate hormones important to weight loss. Specifically one study in women found that whey protein supplementation compared to a glucose drink led to decreases in insulin (obviously as carbohydrates directly stimulate insulin), cortisol, and the hunger hormone ghrelin. In addition to impacting these three hormones, protein stimulates the release of the gut hormone CCK which travels from your intestines to your brain providing a satiety signal. The presence of protein in the gut also slows the rate in which food is allowed to leave your stomach, leading to increased feelings of fullness and satiety as well as slower release of nutrients into your system.
Prolibra/Vecton Weight Loss Study
In 2008, a weight-loss study was published in Nutrition & Metabolism showing the body composition effects of a unique whey protein product, Prolibra. Let's take a look at this study and the findings. During this 12-week study, participants were advised on how to lose one pound per week for the duration of the study. Half of the participants were given a placebo drink to have prior to breakfast and dinner, while the other half of the participants were given the protein supplement Prolibra (10 grams of protein, 1.12g leucine per serving).
What I find most interesting about this study is that the participants taking the protein supplement prior to breakfast and dinner lost between 2.6 and 3.1 more pounds of body fat compare to the group given the placebo over the course of the 12-week study. However, when the researchers looked at the dietary intakes of the participants, outside of the supplement, their protein intakes were essentially the same.
This suggests that there is something unique about the make-up of Prolibra (whey peptides and protein/mineral complexes), as well as the biochemical effects of having 10 grams of whey prior to a meal, which was eliciting increases in fat loss. The protein supplementation group also held onto more muscle while dieting (this is without lifting weights) as well. Clearly, this is every athlete's highest aspiration: decreasing excess fat while retaining hard-earned muscle mass.
While most fat loss diets are about taking things away (calories, carbs, etc), the addition of 10 grams of whey, specifically Prolibra as provided by ProSource's Vectron, prior to your meals will elicit an increase in fat loss in addition to muscle retention.
1 Frestedt, J.L., et al., A whey-protein supplement increases fat loss and spares lean muscle in obese subjects: a randomized human clinical study. Nutr Metab (Lond), 2008. 5: p. 8.