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      FITNESS TIPS FOR 9/22/2004                  

Focus on Whey Protein 

By Daniel Gastelu, M.S., MFS, Director of Nutritional Sciences of the International Sports 
Sciences Association (ISSA), author, trainer of fitness trainers, and sports nutrition and 
dietary supplement industry expert.  

I have been taking and recommending protein supplements for over 30 years. Working in 
the sports nutrition manufacturing industry I even had the opportunity to research and 
develop innovative protein supplements. In this article I am going to share with you some 
of the manufacturing and research insights of a premier sports nutrition protein. As you 
will soon learn, there are many reasons to take a high quality whey protein supplement
 that transcend muscle building and sports performance.

For example, do you think that taking one type of protein supplement a day can result in:

* Building muscle? 
* Increasing strength?
* Controlling appetite?
* Aiding in weight loss? 
* Improving endurance?
* Boosting energy levels? 
* Maintaining immune function?
* Promoting circulatory system health?
* Building a stronger, healthier body?
* Stimulating brain function?

This is what high-quality whey protein, and the special building blocks it contains (called 
amino acids), has to offer your body. Protein is a nutrient we cannot live without; however, 
researchers are discovering that most of us are still not getting enough of it, especially 
athletes. When you know the whey protein science, the numerous benefits are revealed 
and the importance of consuming a high quality whey protein on a regular basis is 

Not All Proteins Are Created Equal

Protein is essential for all living things, especially humans. Our bodies are mostly made 
up of various proteins. But not all of the proteins we eat are created equal. What proteins 
are made of has an impact on whether or not they work well in your body. Your body’s 
activity level, and the type of activity you perform, will dictate what type of protein you 
need. Whey protein has gotten the reputation of being the “king” of all proteins, especially 
as a supplement for athletes. Its reputation is well-deserved, as the benefits of whey 
protein are confirmed in medical research, including sports performance scientific studies 
by some of the world’s leading researchers, universities and medical centers: from Shanxi 
Medical College in China to Harvard University, USA. 

Whey Protein Scores the Best

But how do scientists know that whey protein is the best? During the mid 1990s, when 
researchers were experimenting with proteins from plant and animal sources, they 
discovered that some proteins have all the essential amino acids in proper proportions 
to support growth and health while others do not. After years of testing and retesting, they 
determined that whey protein not only scored the highest in amino acid composition, but 
more importantly it also had a high biological value, or BV, a measure of how much of a 
protein is actually used by your body. Premium quality whey protein isolate also scores 
high on other rating scales as well.

Whey Protein Has Multiple Benefits

There is more to the whey protein story. As scientists continued researching proteins, they 
started to focus on their building blocks, the individual amino acids. As they tested each 
amino acid separately, they were amazed to learn that individual amino acids exerted 
profound beneficial effects on the body. In fact, most amino acids have multiple benefits. 

Below are some of the functions of the main amino acids in high-quality whey protein that 
occur in significant amounts to promote beneficial effects. These functions are not only 
important to your good health; they are also of particular interest to the fitness-minded. 

Summary of Whey Protein’s Key Amino Acids Benefits

BCAA’s (Branched-Chain Amino Acids: Leucine, isoleucine, & valine)
* Increase endurance 
* Prevent fatigue 
* Improve mental performance 
* Increase energy levels 
* Stimulate protein synthesis
* Improve nitrogen balance

* Maintains nervous system health 
* Relieves depression 
* Elevates mood 
* Decreases pain 
* Boosts memory 
* Suppresses appetite 

* Relieves mild to moderate depression 
* Relieves insomnia and promotes restful sleep 
* Promotes weight loss by suppressing appetite 
* Reduces overall sensation of pain (i.e. migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, general 
muscle pain) 

* Increases growth hormone levels
* Protects against heart disease 
* Reduces cholesterol 
* Lowers blood pressure 
* Improves poor circulation 
* Aids in the production of creatine, an important source of energy
* Lowers ammonia levels, which can be increased in athletes due to frequent exercise
* Boosts NO production

* Boosts immune system function 
* Maintains muscle mass 
* Prevents muscle catabolism (breakdown) 
* Enhances glycogen storage 
* Aids recovery from exercise 
* Promotes healing
* Increases growth hormone levels

* Rebuilds cartilage and bones 
* Speeds injury repair 
* Promotes tissue recovery following exercise 
* Protects against overuse injuries (sprains, strains, tendinitis)

Whey Protein Gets Results – It Is Money Well Spent

While high-quality whey protein isolate is the most expensive of the primary protein sources 
used in protein products, it has some distinct nutritional advantages. It enhances the 
production of glutathione, one of the body’s most powerful natural antioxidants. It has the 
highest levels of BCAA’s and has been shown to boost immune system functioning and 
promote and support protein synthesis. It is high in glutamine and arginine. It has a good 
proportion of essential and nonessential amino acids. 

Additionally, whey protein has been clinically proven to build muscle and improve athletic 
performance. It has also been shown to help reduce body fat, while at the same time increase 
ean muscle mass when taken as part of an exercise program. Another important benefit of 
the protein is its ability to raise levels of IGF-1, a muscle-building biochemical, and decrease 
levels of cortisol, a muscle & tissue degrading substance.

Whey Protein Source Glutamine and the Athlete

Dr. Eric Newsholme and his associates at Oxford University in the United Kingdom were 
among the first to hypothesize that an amino acid imbalance may result from strenuous 
exercise and as a consequence induce a number of phenomena that are collectively referred 
to as the “over-training syndrome.” Decreased performance, depressed mood and increased 
incidence of infections are among the many symptoms that are related to the syndrome, 
which has been described by runners, cyclists, swimmers, skiers, ballet dancers, rowers 
and even racehorses. Dietary glutamine plays a role in counteracting these phenomena 
because, as has been shown repeatedly, prolonged exercise decreases the plasma 
glutamine level, suggesting that the muscles cannot provide enough of the nutrient. 

Inadequate amounts of circulating glutamine may lead to impaired immune function and 
increased susceptibility to infection among athletes suffering from over-training syndrome. 
In addition, glutamine use by the small intestine has been found to occur at a very high rate. 
Observations of gastrointestinal disorders, particularly of diarrhea and food allergies may 
be due, at least in part, to low concentrations of circulating glutamine. Recently, it was also 
shown that glycogen storage in the muscles occurred significantly faster when study 
subjects consumed protein together with carbohydrates as compared to carbohydrates 
alone. One of the responsible dietary factors for this faster glycogen recovery is thought 
to be glutamine. 

BCAA’s Help Increase Training Strength, Endurance and Muscle Mass

A study reported in the journal Medicina Dello Sport looked at the effect of taking 
supplemental BCAA’s on bodybuilding progress. The study involved thirty-one male 
bodybuilders between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four, all of whom were drug-free, or 
"natural"  bodybuilders. The subjects were divided into two groups: sixteen took a placebo 
and fifteen took a BCAA supplement. The results showed that while both groups 
experienced increases in body weight, the BCAA group had greater weight gains. An 
analysis of the weight gain in the BCAA group showed increases in the lean body mass in 
both the legs and arms, with no changes in the trunk area of the body. In contrast, the 
group taking the placebo showed no lean-mass gains in these areas. The BCAA group 
also showed strength gains in both the squat and bench-press exercises, while the 
placebo group gained strength only in the squat exercise. In addition, the BCAA group 
showed improvements in measures of exercise intensity.

From my experience developing protein and amino acid products, and the most recent 
research, using BCAA’s to fortify whey protein can further enhance the anabolic and 
strength boosting actions. In July 2004 independent researchers reported findings of 
their newest research that serves to reconfirm my earlier discovery that fortification of 
whey protein with BCAA’s, in particular leucine, will result in greater gains in strength 
and muscle size. D. J. Housh, and coworkers conducted their study at the exercise 
physiology lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Men were divided in to either a 
placebo group or a leucine fortified whey protein group. Subjects trained 3 times a 
week for 8 weeks. At the end of the 8 weeks the males who were strength training and 
ingesting the leucine fortified whey protein had significantly greater increases in 
strength and muscle size when compared to the males who were taking a placebo.  

There are specific bio-energetic and physiological control mechanistic reasons why 
extra amounts of leucine and the other BCAA’s, isoleucine and valine, help to boost 
anabolism. Reasons that I plan to reveal in another article.  

The Big IF: Beware of Whey Protein Product Ingredient Trickery

Too often, for various reasons I won’t get in to here, protein products can be inferior in 
nutrient content and ingredient quality. So it is bewildering to know if you are actually 
getting a high quality product. Some quick tips I can give you include: if you want high 
quality whey protein isolate, then read the label carefully to make sure whey protein 
concentrate or other proteins, like soy, are not blended in to the product. Do a little 
marketing research of your own and compare different brand ingredient content and 
prices, and you will soon start to see the ingredient game trend. Look for a company 
that will work directly with you to provide the best quality and best priced products. 
Some companies are now starting to offer by-the-case discounts. 

Sports nutrition supplements can be extremely beneficial to your health, body 
composition, and performance progress, only if they are high in quality and prescribe 
an adequate dosage. I do not want to imply that whey protein concentrate or soy 
isolate are not useful to athletes, they are. My point is that ingredient trickery may 
lead you into thinking you have purchased pure whey isolate, when you indeed you 
have not. All serious athletes need to have the opportunity to guarantee they are 
purchasing the best whey protein isolate to ensure they are getting the best results 
from their training.  

Notice: This article is for information purposes only, and is not intended to replace or 
give medical advice. Consult your health care professional for the proper diagnosis 
and treatment of diseases and to determine your individual nutrition needs. 

Scientific References

Applegate EA. Nutritional considerations for ultraendurance performance. Int J Sport 
Nutr. 1991 Jun;1(2):118-26. 

Beltz SD, Doering PL. Efficacy of nutritional supplements used by athletes. Clin 
Pharm. 1993 Dec;12(12):900-8. 

Burke, D.G. et al.  The effect of whey protein supplementation with and without 
creatine monohydrate combined with resistance training on lean tissue mass 
and muscle strength.  Int J Sport Nutr. 2001, 11, 349-364.

Economos CD, Bortz SS, Nelson ME. Nutritional practices of elite athletes. Practical 
recommendations. Sports Med. 1993 Dec;16(6):381-99. 

Evans WJ. Muscle damage: nutritional considerations. Int J Sport Nutr. 1991 

Gastelu D. The Complete Nutritional Supplements Buyer’s Guide. 2000. Three 
Rivers Press: New York.

Gastelu D and Hatfield F. Dynamic Nutrition for Maximum Performance. 1997. Avery 
Publishing Group: New York.

Holt WS Jr. Nutrition and athletes. Am Fam Physician. 1993 Jun;47(8):1757-64. 

Housh, D. J., et al. Effects of leucine and whey protein supplementation during 8 
weeks of dynamic constant external resistance training on strength and thigh muscle 
cross-sectional area: a preliminary analysis. National Strength and Conditioning 
Association annual conference, July 2004.

Lands, LC, et al.  Effect of supplementation with a cysteine donor on muscular 
performance.  J. Appl. Physiol. 1999, 87(4): 1381-1385.

Lemon PW, Proctor DN. Protein intake and athletic performance. Sports Med. 1991 

Lemon PW. Effect of exercise on protein requirements. J Sports Sci. 1991 Summer;9 
Spec No:53-70. 

Lemon PW. Is increased dietary protein necessary or beneficial for individuals 
with a physically active lifestyle? Nutr Rev. 1996 Apr;54(4 Pt 2):S169-75. 

Lemon PW. Protein and amino acid needs of the strength athlete. Int J Sport Nutr. 
1991 Jun;1(2):127-45. 

Maffucci DM, McMurray RG. Towards optimizing the timing of the pre-exercise meal. 
Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2000 Jun;10(2):103-13. 

Millward DJ. Optimal intakes of protein in the human diet. Proc Nutr Soc. 1999 

Nieman DC. Physical fitness and vegetarian diets: is there a relation? Am J Clin Nutr. 
1999 Sep;70(3 Suppl):570S-575S. 

Nuviala Mateo RJ, Lapieza Lainez MG. The intake of proteins and essential amino 
acids in top-competing women athletes. Nutr Hosp. 1997 Mar-Apr;12(2):85-91. 

Phillips SM, Atkinson SA, Tarnopolsky MA, MacDougall JD. Gender differences in 
leucine kinetics and nitrogen balance in endurance athletes. J Appl Physiol. 1993 

Probart CK, Bird PJ, Parker KA. Diet and athletic performance. Med Clin North Am. 
1993 Jul;77(4):757-72. 

Shephard RJ, Shek PN. Immunological hazards from nutritional imbalance in athletes. 
Exerc Immunol Rev. 1998;4:22-48. 

Tarnopolsky MA, Atkinson SA, MacDougall JD, Chesley A, Phillips S, Schwarcz HP. 
Evaluation of protein requirements for trained strength athletes. J Appl Physiol. 1992 

Tarnopolsky MA, Bosman M, Macdonald JR, Vandeputte D, Martin J, Roy BD. Postexercise 
protein-carbohydrate and carbohydrate supplements increase muscle glycogen in men 
and women. J Appl Physiol. 1997 Dec;83(6):1877-83. 

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Neither trulyhuge.com nor the authors of this publication assume any liability for the information contained herein. The Information contained herein reflects only the opinion of the author and is in no way to be considered medical advice. Specific medical advice should be obtained from a licensed health care practitioner. Consult your physician before you begin any nutrition, exercise, or dietary supplement program.

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