Whey protein is good for you for all sorts of reasons. For the most part, people in general tend to be fairly aware of this.
However, whey is typically thought of as a great way to gain weight. And that is true. But, depending on how it's used, whey protein powder could also be a powerful weight loss tool.
Primarily, this has to do with whey's ability to reduce your appetite, making it easier for you to eat fewer calories.
But how, exactly, does this mechanism work? Here's what we know about how whey protein helps reduce your appetite.
Protein's Packing Power
The nutrients in your food can be divided into two main categories: macro- and micronutrients.
As their names suggest, micronutrients are substances that you need but in relatively small quantities. This group includes things like vitamins and minerals. Although some of them play a role in energy production, micronutrients are not used for fuel.
Macronutrients, though, are needed in much larger doses and are typically used for fuel. This includes fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Of these, protein is your body's last choice for energy; it has much more important things to do.
Protein – made up of amino acids – is deconstructed and rebuilt into just about any tissue that your body needs to create. Because of this vital role, and its complex structure, it just doesn't make sense for your body to rely on protein for energy.
But... why does any of this matter? Well, since your body doesn't burn up protein the same way that it does with fat and carbohydrates, protein tends to give you greater feelings of fullness than the other macronutrients.
Eating carbs, by comparison, can actually increase your hunger since your body is left looking for more of that quick energy.
What Makes Whey Special?
So, protein – regardless of the source – has some pretty potent appetite suppressing powers. According to several studies, though, whey tends to be more effective than other protein sources.
One 2009 study, published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, for example, found that whey outperformed both casein and soy when it comes to appetite reduction.
But, why? How does this work? In truth, the exact mechanism here isn't fully understood. Some recent research, though, has found that a specific peptide – called glycomacropeptide (GMP) – may play a powerful role in this helpful process.
Interestingly, the study's authors did conclude that GMP wasn't the only substance functioning in this capacity. They weren't able to identify what other aspect of whey might be influencing appetite, though.
So, while there's still a little bit of uncertainty about precisely how whey protein helps reduce your appetite, the simple fact remains that it does.
Science has known for a very long time that all sources of protein can reduce appetite. And there's an ever-growing body of evidence that whey can outdo most other popular proteins in this regard.