Effect of whey protein supplementation and exercise on body composition and biochemical indices among overweight and obese adults


  • Atcharawalee Wongraweekul Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Public Health, Mahidol University, Bangkok, THAILAND
  • Chatrapa Hudthagosol Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Public Health, Mahidol University, THAILAND
  • Promluck Sanporkha Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Public Health, Mahidol University, THAILAND
  • Suwimol Sapwarobol Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, Chulalongkorn University, THAILAND


Whey protein, Obesity and body composition, Lipids, Glucose, Renal function


Obesity is directly associated with developing insulin resistance, hypertension, dyslipidemia and atherosclerosis, which significantly increase the risk of several noncommunicable diseases. A rich bioactive component in whey protein seems to provide benefits for health. This study aimed to determine the effects of whey protein supplementation (WPS) and exercise on body composition, lipid, glucose and renal function among overweight and obese individuals. A parallel-design comparison study was conducted among 80 overweight or obese adults. Subjects with similar characteristics were matched and randomly assigned to 1 of the 4 groups: control, exercise, WPS or WPS plus exercise group for 12 weeks. Two groups (1. WPS group and 2. WPS + exercise group) consumed 29g whey protein mixed in 300mL water 30 minutes before breakfast and dinner twice daily. The two groups which included exercise (1. exercise group and 2. WPS + exercise group) increased exercise 30 minutes daily, 5 days weekly. Body composition, lipids, glucose, and renal function were assessed at weeks 0, 6 and 12. Between-group mean changes in parameters after six and 12 weeks were assessed using one-way ANOVA. Time points were compared within groups using one-way repeated measures ANOVA and Duncan post hoc comparison. 62 subjects completed the study. The WPS + exercise group exhibited significantly improved body composition, blood glucose and total cholesterol at 12 weeks compared with baseline (p<0.05). Triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, and uric acid did not significantly differ in all groups. Supplementation using whey protein and exercise may improve body composition, plasma glucose and total cholesterol among overweight and obese adults. However, a decrease in dietary intake was observed in the intervention group that could have changed body composition. Consequently, the relationship between supplementation, exercise, dietary intake and body composition needs to be clarified in a future study.


Download data is not yet available.


WHO. Obesity and overweight. Available from http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight, accessed 9 January, 2020.

Bastien M, Poirier P, Lemieux I, Després JP. Overview of epidemiology and contribution of obesity to cardiovascular disease. Prog Cardiovasc Dis 2014; 56(4): 369-81.

Kinlen D, Cody D, O’Shea D. Complications of obesity. QJM-Int J Med 2017; 111(7): 437-43.

Gadde KM, Martin CK, Berthoud HR, Heymsfield SB. Obesity: pathophysiology and management. J Am Coll Cardiol 2018; 71(1): 69-84.

Heymsfield SB, Wadden TA. Mechanisms, pathophysiology, and management of obesity. N Engl J Med 2017; 376(3): 254-66.

Clifton PM, Condo D, Keogh JB. Long term weight maintenance after advice to consume low carbohydrate, higher protein diets - A systematic review and meta analysis. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 2014; 24(3): 224-35.

Pesta DH, Samuel VT. A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: Mechanisms and possible caveats. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2014; 11(1): 53.

Acheson KJ, Blondel-Lubrano A, Oguey-Araymon S, Beaumont M, Emady-Azar S, Ammon-Zufferey C, et al. Protein choices targeting thermogenesis and metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr 2011; 93(3): 525-34.

de Castro RJS, Domingues MAF, Ohara A, Okuro PK, dos Santos JG, Brexo RP, et al. Whey protein as a key component in food systems: Physicochemical properties, production technologies and applications. Food Struct 2017; 14: 17-29.

Sousa GT, Lira FS, Rosa JC, de Oliveira EP, Oyama LM, Santos RV, et al. Dietary whey protein lessens several risk factors for metabolic diseases: A review. Lipids Health Dis 2012; 11(1): 67.

Marshall K. Therapeutic applications of whey protein. Altern Med Rev 2004; 9(2): 136-56.

Pal S, Radavelli‐Bagatini S. The effects of whey protein on cardiometabolic risk factors. Obes Rev 2013; 14(4): 324-43.

Patel S. Functional food relevance of whey protein: A review of recent findings and scopes ahead. J Funct Foods 2015; 19: 308-19.

Tahavorgar A, Vafa M, Shidfar F, Gohari M, Heydari I. Beneficial effects of whey protein preloads on some cardiovascular diseases risk factors of overweight and obese men are stronger than soy protein preloads - A randomized clinical trial. J Nutr Intermed Metab 2015; 2(3-4): 69-75.

Pal S, Ellis V, Dhaliwal S. Effects of whey protein isolate on body composition, lipids, insulin and glucose in overweight and obese individuals. Br J Nutr 2010; 104(5): 716-23.

Graf S, Egert S, Heer M. Effects of whey protein supplements on metabolism: Evidence from human intervention studies. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 2011; 14(6): 569-80.

Westerterp KR. Exercise, energy balance and body composition. Eur J Clin Nutr 2018; 72: 1246-50.

Sakpal T. Sample size estimation in clinical trial. Perspect Clin Res 2010; 1(2): 67-69.

Baer DJ, Stote KS, Paul DR, Harris GK, Rumpler WV, Clevidence BA. Whey protein but not soy protein supplementation alters body weight and composition in free-living overweight and obese adults. J Nutr 2011; 141(8): 1489-94.

Akhavan T, Luhovyy BL, Brown PH, Cho CE, Anderson GH. Effect of premeal consumption of whey protein and its hydrolysate on food intake and postmeal glycemia and insulin responses in young adults. Am J Clin Nutr 2010; 91: 966–75.

Stiegler P, Cunliffe A. The role of diet and exercise for the maintenance of fat-free mass and resting metabolic rate during weight loss. Sports Med 2006; 36(3): 239-62.

Matarese LE, Pories WJ. Adult weight loss diets: Metabolic effects and outcomes. Nutr Clin Pract 2014; 29(6): 759-67.

Zafar TA, Waslien C, Al-Raefaei A, Al-Rashidi N, Al-Mahmoud E. Whey protein sweetened beverages reduce glycemic and appetite responses and food intake in young females. Nutr Res 2013; 3(4): 303-10.

Tahavorgar A, Vafa M, Shidfar F, Gohari M, Heydari I. Whey protein preloads are more beneficial than soy protein preloads in regulating appetite, calorie intake, anthropometry, and body composition of overweight and obese men. Nutr Res 2014; 34(10): 856-61.

Frestedt JL, Zenk JL, Kuskowski MA, Ward LS, Bastian ED. A whey-protein supplement increases fat loss and spares lean muscle in obese subjects: A randomized human clinical study. Nutr Metab 2008; 5(1): 8.

Mollahosseini M, Shab-Bidar S, Rahimi MH, Djafarian K. Effect of whey protein supplementation on long and short term appetite: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clin Nutr ESPEN 2017; 20: 34-40.

Miller PE, Alexander DD, Perez V. Effects of whey protein and resistance exercise on body composition: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Am Coll Nutr 2014; 33(2): 163-75.

Howatson G, Hoad M, Goodall S, Tallent J, Bell PG, French DN. Exercise-induced muscle damage is reduced in resistance-trained males by branched chain amino acids: A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2012; 9(1): 20.

Børsheim E, Bui QUT, Tissier S, Kobayashi H, Ferrando AA, Wolfe RR. Effect of amino acid supplementation on muscle mass, strength and physical function in elderly. Clin Nutr 2008; 27(2): 189-95.

Hulmi JJ, Laakso M, Mero AA, Häkkinen K, Ahtiainen JP, Peltonen H. The effects of whey protein with or without carbohydrates on resistance training adaptations. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2015; 12(1): 48.

Krissansen GW. Emerging health properties of whey proteins and their clinical implications. J Am Coll Nutr 2007; 26(6): 713S-23S.

Jakubowicz D, Froy O. Biochemical and metabolic mechanisms by which dietary whey protein may combat obesity and Type 2 diabetes. J Nutr Biochem 2013; 24(1): 1-5.

Jakubowicz D, Wainstein J, Landau Z, Ahren B, Barnea M, Bar-Dayan Y, et al. High-energy breakfast based on whey protein reduces body weight, postprandial glycemia and HbA1C in Type 2 diabetes. J Nutr Biochem 2017; 49: 1-7.

Zhang J, Tong X, Wan Z, Wang Y, Qin L, Szeto I. Effect of whey protein on blood lipid profiles: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Eur J Clin Nutr 2016; 70(8): 879.

Fluegel SM, Shultz TD, Powers JR, Clark S, Barbosa-Leiker C, Wright BR, et al. Whey beverages decrease blood pressure in prehypertensive and hypertensive young men and women. Int Dairy J 2010; 20(11): 753-60.

Bock PM, Telo GH, Ramalho R, Sbaraini M, Leivas G, Martins AF, et al. The effect of probiotics, prebiotics or synbiotics on metabolic outcomes in individuals with diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabetologia 2021; 64: 26–41.

Marques LR, Diniz TA, Antunes BM, Rossi FE, Caperuto EC, Lira FS, et al. Reverse cholesterol transport: Molecular mechanisms and the non-medical approach to enhance HDL cholesterol. Front Physiol 2018; 9: 526.






Original Articles