Whey Protein... "Exposed"
03-10-2003 01:23 PM
Whey Protein... "Exposed"
Article from bb... WW and I, Pogue, Ripped, among others were watching this fella, at first he was asking for 3 people's emails as collateral for his article, after some flak it has been posted... thought maybe move it over here for you to look at without getting all that bb funk all over ya.
WHEY PROTEIN ‘EXPOSED’
By Robert Thoburn
If you think that whey protein is superior to for bodybuilding purposes, you may be shocked when you read this article.
Accounting 101: Protein Balance
First, let’s begin by talking about accounting.
Protein, whether we’re talking about the protein that makes up your own tissues, or that supplied by food, consists of amino acids linked together in chains. Amino acids are the principle means by which we get nitrogen –an essential element in your survival.
Building bigger muscles is about balance –protein balance. If your body makes more muscle protein than it breaks down (i.e., a positive protein balance) your muscles will increase in size and strength with time. Conversely, if you make less muscle protein than you break down (i.e., a negative protein balance), your muscles will tend to get weaker and smaller.
Scientists refer to ‘building up’ (synthetic) processes as ‘anabolism’ or ‘anabolic’; ‘catabolism’, or ‘catabolic’ processes, in contrast, involve breaking down tissue structures. Thus, a positive protein balance indicates an anabolic state.
A Positive Protein Balance is Essential to Building Bigger Muscles
Since protein contains nitrogen, we can estimate your protein balance by measuring your nitrogen balance. Technically speaking, however, the two should not be considered equal. In any case, a positive nitrogen balance is generally taken as a sign of an anabolic state with an overall gain (retention) of nitrogen for the day, whereas a negative nitrogen balance indicates a catabolic state.
Another, arguably more accurate, way to estimate your protein balance is by measuring your body’s balance of a particular amino acid, such as leucine. A positive leucine balance indicates protein anabolism. Or, at least, a positive leucine balance reflects a state (i.e., increased availability of leucine inside your muscle cells) that supports protein anabolism. Conversely, a negative leucine balance suggests protein catabolism (‘breaking down’). Simply stated, a positive leucine balance is ‘good’; a negative leucine balance, ‘bad’, for the purpose of building bigger muscles.
Maintaining Muscle Protein Balance
You don’t eat all the time; there are gaps in your protein intake, such as in between meals and while you sleep.
So how does your body preserve its protein balance? How does it keep your ‘Protein Economy’ (the total amount of protein in your body) from shrinking --and your muscles alongside-- in the face of fluctuating intakes of dietary protein?
Your body maintains its protein balance largely by adjusting tissue protein breakdown according to how much protein you feed it (for review see Garlick et al., 1999).
In between meals (e.g., overnight), you lose tissue (e.g., muscle) protein, but after a protein-containing meal, you recoup what you lost through a decrease in protein breakdown. The production, or synthesis, of tissue protein often stays about the same after a protein-containing meal (Melville et al., 1989; Price et al., 1994; Garlick et al., 1999), yet because protein breakdown is reduced, the result is a net increase (gain) in protein such that balance is achieved. You don’t get bigger, but you don’t shrink, either.
In order to actually make your muscles bigger and stronger, you’ve got to work on both sides of the protein balance equation. However, the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis is by far the most important half of the muscle-building equation. This cannot be emphasized enough. Indeed, the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis is the means by which resistance exercise makes muscles grow (Barr and Esser, 1999); it’s also how some of the most powerful muscle-building hormones (e.g., testosterone, growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1) work their magic.
Whey vs. Casein
Now we’re prepared to discuss protein supplements. Whey and casein are the two major proteins in milk. Whey is frequently touted as the highest quality protein available for the bodybuilder or similarly-focused individual. Yet these claims appear to reflect a vast misinterpretation of the available scientific literature on the matter.
Absorption: Faster is Not Better!
When you eat a serving of whey protein, its digestion in your gut results in a very rapid, but short-lived, surge of amino acids into your bloodstream (Boirie et al., 1997). Casein, by comparison, yields a slower, more sustained release of amino acids (Boirie et al., 1997). Importantly, casein’s slower absorption profile seems to better promote a positive protein balance (Boirie et al., 1997) –an essential requirement for building bigger muscles.
Recall from above that one way of estimating your protein balance is by measuring your body’s balance of a particular amino acid, such as leucine. A positive leucine balance indicates a state (i.e., increased availability of leucine inside your muscle cells) that supports protein anabolism. Conversely, a negative leucine balance indicates conditions favoring protein catabolism.
Ironically, whey protein marketers have been known to cite the Boirie study (Boirie et al., 1997) as evidence with which to support whey’s ‘superiority’ as a muscle-building protein. Contrary to what their ads and articles (‘advertorials’) imply, however, Boirie et al. found that casein –not whey— produced the most positive leucine balance when fed to healthy young humans. In fact, whey actually produced a negative leucine balance.
The negative leucine balance associated with eating whey protein resulted from a greater loss of leucine, through its irreversible ‘burning’, or oxidation. Furthermore, when the subjects in the Boirie et al. study ate whey protein, more urea was formed than when they ate casein. Urea is a waste product of amino acid breakdown. Nitrogen from amino acid breakdown is irreversibly transferred to urea. Since urea cannot be reused, it represents a loss of nitrogen.
To sum it up, at least under the conditions of this study, casein demonstrated superior potential for promoting a positive protein balance as compared to whey –not the other way around. But even so, will this difference translate into faster gains in muscle size for you? Maybe. Maybe not. The answer must be determined by long-term, controlled clinical trials.
Whey’s Frequently Touted ‘Virtue’ Is Actually Its Downfall
Again, whey is often said to be superior to casein because of its ability to deliver amino acids into your bloodstream rapidly. Yet this is not a virtue; rather, it’s a weakness.
When it comes to amino acid absorption, haste makes waste. The rate at which amino acids are broken down, or catabolized, is directly related to the level they achieve in the bloodstream (Reeds et al., 1992). The faster the amino acids provided by the protein you eat exit your gut and enter your bloodstream, and the higher the blood levels they attain, the more they get wasted.
The higher your blood levels of the amino acid leucine, for instance, the greater its rate of catabolism. Eating whey protein drives blood leucine levels very high (Boirie et al., 1997). Not surprisingly, this results in a corresponding loss of leucine through catabolism (Boirie et al., 1997). And as indicated above, whey generates more urea –the waste product of amino acid breakdown— than casein.
Barnyards, Hair and Feathers
There’s another longstanding issue we need to clear up. To do so, let’s go visit the animals in the barnyard. A barnyard filled with cows, sheep, dogs, rats, cats, chickens.
What do all these creatures have in common? And what the heck has this got to do with bodybuilding and whey protein supplements?
Plenty, in fact. To answer the first question, unlike you and me, all of above barnyard creatures are covered in either hair or feathers. Hair and feathers are made of the protein known as keratin, which is rich in the sulfur-containing amino acid, cysteine (found in keratin in its oxidized form, cystine).
Cysteine can be produced in animals from another sulfur-containing amino acid, methionine. Since whey has more sulfur-containing amino acids than casein, hair- or feather-covered animals require less whey than casein to achieve protein balance. But this advantage will clearly does not apply to humans, a relatively hairless and featherless species, as the Boirie et al. study would seem to agree.
Nevertheless, studies performed over a half-century ago on hair- or feather-covered animals which demonstrated the ‘superiority’ of whey over casein, have been used as marketing ‘support’ by companies selling whey protein supplements.
Back in 1947, Tomarelli and Bernhart demonstrated that feeding whey protein (hydrolyzed a-lactalbumin, more specifically) to rats produced greater protein retention than did casein (e.g., Tomarelli and Bernhart, 1947). The rats required about 70% more casein nitrogen than whey nitrogen per day to maintain nitrogen balance. These results are consistent with a number of similar studies performed around this time. The trouble is that these studies, too, were performed on animals covered either in hair or feathers –rats, dogs, and chickens, for instance. Thus, these data are applicable to barnyard animals, but not to humans.
Methionine is an essential sulfur-containing amino acid. As I noted earlier, it can be used by your body to synthesize cysteine (as in the production of keratin). Rats, which were commonly used in early studies to determine the frequently-quoted “Biological Value” (BV) of various dietary proteins, have a methionine requirement that is around 50% greater than you or I (Sarwar et al., 1989). This contributes to the lower BV numbers reported for dietary proteins containing relatively less methionine when such proteins are fed to rats, as compared to humans (Bricker and Mitchell, 1947).
Johnson et al. (1946) relate: “In the case of the human experiments, then, it would be concluded that the methionine requirement is lower, and is not a limiting factor in the attainment of nitrogen excretion in these experiments, or that the requirement is met by the body protein breakdown plus any dietary protein….Since the addition of further methionine did not reduce the nitrogen excretion on the low protein diet, it can be concluded that no more methionine is required under these circumstances than that represented by the entire sulfur excretion, or 1.4 gm methionine per day for our average subject….the present experiments suggest that the human body is not limited in its ability to conserve nitrogen by the need to meet a methionine requirement.”
Cox et al. (1946) clarify even further: “comparison of the nitrogen retention of a casein hydrolysate with and without added methionine in rats, dogs and man has clearly shown a striking species difference. The addition of methionine increased the rate of growth in rats and the magnitude of nitrogen retention in dogs. In man, however, it was without effect on nitrogen retention…An explanation for this difference does not seem difficult, based on the fact that the rat and dog are covered with hair, and that man is not. Since hair contains large amounts of cystine, it is reasonable to suppose that the requirement for this amino acid (or methionine) is considerably greater than that of man…The generally recognized nutritive difference between casein [lower in cystine] and lactalbumin [higher in cystine] is valid for the rat and for the dog, but not for man.”
As the above evidence hopefully makes clear, the claim that whey is superior to casein for building muscle is simply not valid.
The study performed by Boirie et al. (1997) found evidence to suggest that casein is superior to whey for promoting a positive protein balance. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it will build muscle any better than whey, or a chicken breast meat, for that matter.
Protein supplement ads and articles frequently cite Biological Value (BV) numbers (e.g., 104 and sometimes even higher) for whey as evidence for its superiority; however, these BV values were derived from studies on hair- and feather-covered animals that require more of the sulfur-containing amino acids that whey is rich in. These results do NOT apply to humans.
Boirie Y, Dangin M, Gachon P, Vasson M-P, Maoubois J-L, Beaufrere B (1997). Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 94: 14930-14935.
Bricker ML, Mitchell HH (1947). The protein requirements of the adult rat in terms of the protein contained in egg, milk and soy flour. J Nutr, 33: 491-504.
Cox WM JR, Mueller AJ, Elman R, Albanese AA, Kemmerer KS, Barton RW, Holt LE Jr (1946). Nitrogen retention studies on rats, dogs and man: The effect of adding methionine to an enzymic hydrolysate. J Nutr, 32: 437-457.
Demling RH, DeSanti L (2000). Effect of a hypocaloric diet, increased protein intake and resistance training on lean mass gains and fat mass loss in overweight police officers. Ann Nutr Metab, 44: 21-29.
Fereday A, Gibson NR, Cox M, Pacy PJ, Millward DJ (1998). Variation in the apparent sensitivity of the insulin mediated inhibition of proteolysis to amino acid supply determines the efficiency of protein utilization. Clin Sci, 95: 725.
Garlick PJ, McNurlan MA, Patlak CS (1999). Adaptation of protein metabolism in relation to limits to high dietary protein intake. Eur J Clin Nutr, 53: S34.
Johnson RM, Deuel HJ, Morehouse MG, Mehl JW (1946). The effect of methionine upon the urinary nitrogen in men at normal and low levels of protein intake. J Nutr, 32: 371-387.
Melville S, McNurlan MA, McHardy KC, Broom J, Milne E, Calder AG, Garlick PJ (1989). The role of degradation in the acute control of protein balance in adult man: Failure of feeding to stimulate protein synthesis as assessed by L-[1-13C]leucine infusion. Metabolism, 38: 248-255.
Price GM, Halliday D, Pacy PJ, Quevedo RM, Millward DJ (1994). Nitrogen homeostasis in man: 1. Influence of protein intake on the amplitude of diurnal cycling of body nitrogen. Clin Sci, 86: 91-102.
Reeds PJ, Fiorotto ML, Davis TA (1992). Nutrition partitioning. An overview. In: Bray GA, Ryan DH, eds. The Science of Food Regulation. Volume 2. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University. p. 103-120.
Sarwar G, Peace RW, Botting HG, Brule D (1989). Relationship between amino acid scores and protein quality indices based on rat growth. Plant Foods Hum Nutr, 39: 33-44.
Shigemitsu K, Tsjui****a Y, Miyake H, Hidayat S, Tanaka N, Hara K, Yonezawa K (1999). Structural requirement of leucine for activation of p70 S6 kinase. FEBS Lett, 447: 303.
Tomarelli RM, Bernhart FW (1947). A bioassay for protein and protein digests. J Nutr, 33: 263-272.
03-10-2003 01:53 PM
wow, great article...looks like I'll be stickin' to my pro blend and pro complex
03-10-2003 02:12 PM
nice article , really informative.
03-10-2003 02:15 PM
Hey LG what pro complex do you use? Optimum nutrition?
03-10-2003 10:38 PM
i still think whey has its place as windward said at bb.com. No protein absorbs into your body quicker. I might try a few new things though and maybe do like a 60/40 ratio of whey to casein after workout.
03-11-2003 12:10 AM
why not just straight whey after your workout and a complex as a meal replacement. Originally posted by Intensified i still think whey has its place as windward said at bb.com. No protein absorbs into your body quicker. I might try a few new things though and maybe do like a 60/40 ratio of whey to casein after workout.
03-11-2003 08:32 AM
Well my original thought was to get all the different amino's all at once having the whey there for absorbtion and the casein as the rest of the complete source. but i am not going to do that anymore sticking to the good ol straight whey and complex meal
03-11-2003 08:38 AM
I`m thinking now that a Milk Isolate would be a good option - a mix of casein & whey at a reasonable price from ProteinCustomizer..
IMO a 60/40 milk isolate / hydrolyzed whey for post workout would be a good option.
What do you think?
The Milk Isolate could also be used in an MRP if you ordered them unmixed.
03-11-2003 08:42 AM
now you got me all confused I am all for the mixtures other than postworkout and waking up. i wouldnt use the mixture post workout because it will slow the absorption rate. athe amino acid problem is solved by eating those six meals a day.
03-11-2003 10:12 AM
The True Warrior is one who conquers oneself
how about post workout....... whey shake like normal....
add a handful of liver tabs......theres your aminos.
03-11-2003 01:48 PM
I think most people make the mistake of not having anything else with their whey mix. I know that Post workout, I'm fine - just shove the stuff down my neck, and it won't go amiss. Other times I'll make sure that I have something else with the shake, including carbs and fat. This slows the absorbtion down, but doesn't affect the quality of the whey. I have big problems with casein (although I must admit I haven't tried many of the newer blends) which is why I stick to whey.
Another big problem is people taking in too much at once.
A simple mix of AST VP2 with a little fruit juice that provides around 25 grams of protein is my normal routine - the only time I bother exceeding this amount is post-workout.
03-11-2003 02:52 PM
The Axe Man Cometh!!
about an hour before workout I have a mix of casein and whey and right after workout straight whey then about an hour later another blend of casein+whey
ever since I've been doing that formula its been working nicely
03-11-2003 03:10 PM
I use an extremely fast absrobing protein (hydrolysate and isolate) with l-glutamine and bcaa's and maltodextrin post workout then 45 minutes after that my evening meal.
Do not go gentle into that good night...Rage! Rage! against the dying of the light!!
03-11-2003 07:06 PM
03-11-2003 09:25 PM
Well i think the fact that Whey is being mixed with the casein is going to make the absorbtion slower even though there is more whey the casein still plays a role. i am just going to continue as usual and consume 100% whey and then an hour later have my macronutrients.
03-11-2003 09:42 PM
Umm..perhaps this is simplifying it a bit too much, but, if I mix my whey with milk..I do believe I have whey and casin..so problem is solved.
03-11-2003 09:49 PM
the problem isent how to obtain a good mixture it is simply that the casein will cause the absorption of whey to slow down. milk and whey is great prebed but not after a workout.
03-11-2003 09:51 PM
Thats what I do wardog...works fine for me ... I suppose dextrose would be better for the insulin spike post workout however... Either way, Im content... I would like to get a casein powder... or other night time blend though for when I can't drink milk (carbs). What is the cheapest price around fellas? Ive looked at proteinfactory, customizer, etc...
03-11-2003 09:57 PM
so what is your guys take on this? the milk works fine? what about absorbtion? i still think you would be better of with water instead.
03-11-2003 11:30 PM
I've always used milk, and always will... depends on what you're talking about, times of day etc but keep in mind many many very knowledgable bros use large amounts of milk as well as *excluding* high GI carbs (no dextrose with whey postworkout, for example), and instead *always* use oats, whole wheats etc, even post train... "better off" with water is really open to opinion I think, since we have to define what you mean by it.
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