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The Whey To Weight Loss Part Ii

Effects on​ serotonin,​ blood sugar regulation,​ and more!

Although the​ above would probably be the​ major mechanisms by which whey could help the​ dieter,​ there are several secondary effects of​ whey that may assist in​ weight loss. For example,​ whey’s effects on​ serotonin levels. Serotonin is​ probably the​ most studied neurotransmitter since it​ has been found to​ be involved in​ a​ wide range of​ psychological and biological functions. Serotonin ( also called 5-hydroxytryptamine or​ 5-HT) is​ involved with mood,​ anxiety,​ and appetite.

Elevated levels of​ serotonin can cause relaxation and reduced anxiety. Low serotonin levels are associated with low mood,​ increased anxiety (hence the​ current popularity of​ the​ SSRI drugs such as​ Prozac and others),​ and poor appetite control. This is​ an​ extremely abbreviated description of​ all the​ functions serotonin performs in​ the​ human body - many of​ which have yet to​ be fully elucidated - but a​ full explanation is​ beyond the​ scope of​ this article.

Needless to​ say,​ Increased brain serotonin levels are associated with an​ improved ability of​ people to​ cope with stress,​ whereas a​ decline in​ serotonin activity is​ associated with depression and anxiety. Elevated levels of​ serotonin in​ the​ body often result in​ the​ relief of​ depression,​ as​ well as​ substantial reduction in​ pain sensitivity,​ anxiety and stress. it​ has also been theorized that a​ diet-induced increase in​ tryptophan will increase brain serotonin levels,​ while a​ diet designed for weight loss (e.g.,​ a​ diet that reduces calories) may lead to​ a​ reduction of​ brain serotonin levels due to​ reduced substrate for production and a​ reduction in​ carbohydrates.

Many people on​ a​ reduced calorie intake in​ an​ attempt to​ lose weight find they are often ill tempered and more anxious. Reductions in​ serotonin may be partially to​ blame here. One recent study (The bovine protein alpha-lactalbumin increases the​ plasma ratio of​ tryptophan to​ the​ other large neutral amino acids,​ and in​ vulnerable subjects raises brain serotonin activity,​ reduces cortisol concentration,​ and improves mood under stress. Am J Clin Nutr 2000 Jun;71(6):1536-1544) examined whether alpha-lactalbumin - a​ major sub fraction found in​ whey which has an​ especially high tryptophan content - would increase plasma Tryptophan levels as​ well reduce depression and cortisol concentrations in​ subjects under acute stress considered to​ be vulnerable to​ stress.

The researchers examined twenty-nine "highly stress-vulnerable subjects" and 29 "relatively stress-invulnerable" subjects using a​ double blind,​ placebo-controlled study design. the​ study participants were exposed to​ experimental stress after eating a​ diet enriched with either alpha-lactalbumin (found in​ whey) or​ sodium-caseinate,​ another milk based protein. They researchers looked at:

* Diet-induced changes in​ the​ plasma Tryptophan and its ratio to​ other large neutral amino acids.

* Prolactin levels.

* Changes in​ mood and pulse rate.

* Cortisol levels (which were assessed before and after the​ stressor).

Amazingly,​ the​ ratio of​ plasma Tryptophan to​ the​ other amino acids tested was 48% higher after the​ alpha-lactalbumin diet than after the​ casein diet! This was accompanied by a​ decrease in​ cortisol levels and higher prolactin concentration. Perhaps most important and relevant to​ the​ average person reading this article,​ they found "reduced depressive feelings" when test subjects were put under stress.

They concluded that the​ "Consumption of​ a​ dietary protein enriched in​ tryptophan increased the​ plasma Trp-LNAA ratio and,​ in​ stress-vulnerable subjects,​ improved coping ability,​ probably through alterations in​ brain serotonin." This effect was not seen in​ the​ sodium-caseinate group. if​ other studies can confirm these findings,​ whey may turn out to​ be yet another safe and effective supplement in​ the​ battle against depression and stress,​ as​ well as​ reduced serotonin levels due to​ dieting.

Although there is​ a​ long list of​ hormones involved in​ appetite regulation,​ some of​ which have been mentioned above,​ serotonin appears to​ be a​ key player in​ the​ game. in​ general,​ experiments find increased serotonin availability or​ activity = reduced food consumption and decreased serotonin = increase food consumption. if​ whey can selectively increase serotonin levels above that of​ other proteins,​ it​ could be very helpful to​ the​ dieter.

Other possible advantages whey may confer to​ the​ dieter is​ improved blood sugar regulation (Frid AH,​ Nilsson M,​ Holst JJ,​ Bjorck IM. Effect of​ whey on​ blood glucose and insulin responses to​ composite breakfast and lunch meals in​ type 2 diabetic subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jul;82(1):69-75.) which is​ yet another key area in​ controlling appetite and metabolism.

Finally,​ calcium from dairy products has been found to​ be associated with a​ reduction in​ bodyweight and fat mass. Calcium is​ thought to​ influence energy metabolism as​ intracellular calcium regulates fat cell (adipocyte) lipid metabolism as​ well as​ triglyceride storage. It’s been demonstrated in​ several studies the​ superiority of​ dairy versus non-dairy sources of​ calcium for improving body composition,​ and the​ whey fraction of​ dairy maybe the​ key.

The mechanism responsible for increased fat loss found with dairy-based calcium versus nondairy calcium has not is​ not fully understood but researchers looking at​ the​ issue theorized "... dairy sources of​ calcium markedly attenuate weight and fat gain and accelerate fat loss to​ a​ greater degree than do supplemental sources of​ calcium. This augmented effect of​ dairy products relative to​ supplemental calcium is​ likely due to​ additional bioactive compounds,​ including the​ angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and the​ rich concentration of​ branched-chain amino acids in​ whey,​ which act synergistically with calcium to​ attenuate adiposity."

It appears components in​ whey - some of​ which have been mentioned above - are thought to​ act synergistically with calcium to​ improve body composition (Zemel MB. Role of​ calcium and dairy products in​ energy partitioning and weight management. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 May;79(5):907S-912S.).

Conclusion

Taken in​ isolation,​ none of​ these studies are so compelling that people should run out and use whey as​ some form of​ weight loss nirvana. However,​ taken as​ a​ total picture,​ the​ bulk of​ the​ research seems to​ conclude that whey may in​ fact have some unique effects for weight loss and should be of​ great use to​ the​ dieter. More studies are clearly needed however.

So what is​ the​ practical application of​ all this information and how does the​ dieter put it​ to​ good use? Being the​ appetite suppressing effects of​ whey appear to​ last approximately 2-3 hours,​ it​ would seem best to​ stagger the​ intake throughout the​ day. For example,​ breakfast might be 1-2 scoops of​ whey and a​ bowl of​ oatmeal,​ and perhaps a​ few scoops of​ whey taken between lunch and dinner.

If whey does what the​ data suggests it​ does in​ the​ above,​ that should be the​ most effective method for maximizing the​ effects of​ whey on​ food (calorie) intake on​ subsequent meals as​ well as​ the​ other metabolic effects covered. if​ working out,​ the​ schedule may be different however and people should follow the​ pre and post nutrition recommendations made in​ my ebook "Muscle Building Nutrition" or​ advice easily found on​ the​ 'net via the​ many sports nutrition and bodybuilding related web sites.

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