An overview of current research about milk protein and health
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According to a 2011 Nestle Nutrition Institute review of research, consumption of dairy products and their milk proteins increase satiety and reduce food intake and blood glucose response when consumed alone or with carbohydrate. Dairy proteins are more satiating than either carbohydrate or fat. Milk proteins contribute to the maintenance of a healthy body weight and the control of factors associated with metabolic syndrome.
A study published in The Journal of Nutrition (2003) found that leucine, a branched-chain amino acid in whey protein, helps regulate blood glucose through the insulin-signaling pathway. (Also see Nestle research review noted above.)
Weight management and body composition
According to a study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" (2006), higher protein diets are associated with increased thermogenesis (the energy required to digest, absorb and dispose of the nutrients from food) and may help increase muscle/lean body mass which may slightly yet significantly increase calorie expenditure. Recent research published online in The Journal of Nutrition (2011) suggests that whey protein may help improve body weight and composition when compared with consuming an equal amount of calories from carbohydrates. (Also see Nestle research review noted above.)
Consumption of about 30 grams of high-quality protein increases the rate of muscle protein synthesis by about 50% ("Journal of the American Dietetic Association," 2009). Animal proteins, especially those from dairy, seem to support better muscle protein synthesis than plant proteins. According to a research review published in "Nutrition & Metabolism" (2011), leucine may play a central role in activating muscle protein synthesis. Also, resistance exercise combined with amino acid ingestion elicits the greatest muscle-building response in the elderly.
According to a 2011 research review published in "Nutrition Reviews," protein may improve calcium absorption, increase insulin-like growth factor 1 or improve lean body mass, which, in turn, may improve bone strength. Therefore, protein may offer a modest benefit to bone in the presence of adequate calcium.
Compiled by health and wellness editor Karen Giles-Smith.