Protein Primes Women's Prime Time

Postmenopausal women benefit from protein supplements

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Prime time women who have added a few extra pounds over the years often have trouble finding a successful diet and exercise program. Is there support available to help diet success?

A recent study from the University of Illinois found that postmenopausal women who added a whey protein supplement twice daily to their diet lost more weight, had less hunger pangs and had better muscle to fat proportions.

"Add a whey protein supplement if trying to lose weight."

Ellen Evans, a former University of Illinois associate professor of Kinesiology and Community Health reports that weight-loss diets that emphasize high protein content protect muscle mass better than low protein diets. Mina Mojtahedi, a researcher in Evans's lab, goes on to comment that as women age, loss of muscle makes it more difficult to perform even the simplest, every day activities.

Things like climbing stairs and getting up from a seated position become increasingly difficult, so preserving muscle mass is essential for maintaining independence in this demographic.

In this study, 31 healthy, postmenopausal obese women were divided into two groups. Both groups of women were placed on a 1,400-calorie weight-loss diet. The first group received a powdered whey protein supplement twice a day while the second group received a twice daily placebo containing carbohydrates.

Both groups received the same encouragement to walk and stretch. They were also educated about diet with particular emphasis on portion control and daily menu suggestions.

Before and after the six- month study, participants were evaluated for balance, strength, walking and performing every day activities like getting up from a chair.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to establish a baseline prior to the study and at the end of the study to measure muscle, fat and amount of fat in the right thigh muscle.

Both groups experienced decreasing strength accompanied with weight loss. However, the women whose diet was supplemented with whey protein had a better muscle to fat ratio than the group on a carbohydrate supplement. Also, the women in the whey protein supplement group lost almost four percent more weight and achieved a relative gain of almost six percent more thigh muscle volume than the other group.

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Review Date: 
August 12, 2011
Last Updated:
August 16, 2011