Whey Protein and Muscles

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrates that whey protein is significantly effective in producing muscle gain, at least in older men.

For years, bodybuilders, fitness buffs and people just generally into healthy living have debated the relative merits of different types of protein powder.

For the average person, choosing a protein powder can be confusing. There’s rice protein, casein (milk protein), whey protein and soy protein, just for starters. Some are digested more slowly, some are available to the body much more quickly (whey, for example).

But studies testing one against the other for muscle growth are few and far between.

In the current study, 48 older men were assigned to ingest 20g (one typical serving) of either whey, casein, or casein hydrolysate (a faster acting form of casein). The researchers then used a number of sophisticated measurements to asses both digestion and absorption; they also calculated how effectively new muscle was created.

The clear winner was whey protein.

Whey protein stimulates… muscle protein accretion (growth) more effectively than do casein and casein hydrolysate in older men”, the researchers concluded.

Scientists believe that a particular amino acid- leucine- may be partly responsible for the positive effect on muscle growth. Leucine has been identified as the main nutritional “signal” responsible for stimulating muscle growth, and whey has a considerably higher leucine content than other protein powders.

Other studies have demonstrated the positive effects of whey protein powder on both appetite control and on the immune system.

Though this particular study was done on older men, there’s no reason to assume that the positive effect on muscle growth would not apply to other populations as well, such as women and younger men.




  1. Payam

    Is whey protein isolate or whey protein concentrate better? This blog post seems incomplete without a discussion of the two and which is better and why. Could you add the discussion to your post.

  2. Rhonda

    We have our own dairy cow and make some of our own cheese. I was wondering if the whey left over from the cheese making was just as good as the whey powders. If it is, would just drinking the whole milk be just as good or is it not enough whey per serving.

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  4. Theresa

    Great QUESTION! I make my own LIQUID whey from raw milk! Did you get an answer? I want to know also!

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  6. Beth @ Participating in Clinical Trials

    Whey protein and any kind of protein is really essential for older people in building muscles. Older loss muscles faster compared to younger ones.

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    This Dr. really knows about what he’s talking about. This post is supported by real facts, not guessing. Thank you.

  9. Aiden Hall

    If you are lifting weights and doing any kind of strength training or bodybuilding then you definitely need whey protein, otherwise it will be difficult to recover and build muscle. I think casein protein shakes are great before bed-time to ensure that your body has some slow-digesting protein in it throughout the night. If you are older than 35 then try blending in peanut butter and pine pollen for a testosterone boosting protein shake.

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