Improving body composition

Epidemiological studies have found a positive or neutral relationship between dairy consumption and reduced risk of obesity. Research has also shown consumption of dairy foods or whey protein is associated with greater increases in lean muscle gain and fat loss for those on an energy-restricted diet.1,2

The proteins found in milk – whey and casein – are the most common proteins used in nutrition supplements designed for muscle gains. These proteins provide all the essential amino acids needed to build and maintain muscle mass.

Casein is a slow-to-digest and slow-release protein which has been shown to reduce muscle breakdown.

Whey is a fast-acting and quick-absorbing protein with a high concentration of leucine – a branched chain amino acid (BCAA). Leucine specifically stimulates the building of new muscle tissue.3

Protein from dairy foods has been shown to have beneficial body composition effects in men and women. A 2007 study showed male weightlifters who drank skim milk after a workout built about twice as much muscle as those who drank soy beverages4, while another showed women who drank 500mL of skim milk an hour after resistance exercise gained more muscle and lost more fat than those who had a sugar-based energy drink.5

1 Harvey-Berino J, Gold B, Lauber R, Starinski A. The impact of calcium and dairy product consumption on weight Loss. Obes Res. 2005;13(10):1720-26.

2 Louie J, Flood V, Hector D, Rangan A, Gill T. Dairy consumption and overweight and obesity: a systematic review of prospective cohort studies. Obes Rev. 2011;12(7):e582-e92.

3 Hartman JW, Tang JE, Wilkinson SB, Tarnopolsky MA, Lawrence RL, Fullerton AV et al. Consumption of fat-free fluid milk after resistance exercise promotes greater lean mass accretion than does consumption of soy or carbohydrate in young, novice, male weightlifters. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007; 86(2):373-81.

4 Wilkinson SB, Tarnopolsky MA, Macdonald MJ, Macdonald JR, Armstrong D, Phillips SM. Consumption of fluid skim milk promotes greater muscle protein accretion after resistance exercise than does consumption of an isonitrogenous and isoenergetic soy-protein beverage. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(4):1031-40.

5 Josse AR, Tang JE, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Body composition and strength changes in women with milk and resistance exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010;42(6):1122-30.