Now that we’re well into January, how are you progressing on those New Year’s resolutions? That may depend on how realistic they were. For example, if you resolved to “lose 20 pounds” without an action plan, you may be struggling a bit. If─on the other hand─you have a definite strategy to increase your fitness, a leaner, more toned body is a likely result.

Along with consistently hitting the gym and/or engaging in other forms of exercise 3-5 times per week, there is something else you can do, which─according to recent studies─can increase your exercise benefits exponentially. Intrigued?

One study investigated the ability of whey protein─at approximately 20 grams/day─to enhance physical performance and body composition (ratio of fat to lean muscle). After 8 weeks, both fitness performance and lean body mass increased significantly in the group fed whey protein, while the placebo group showed no change. The authors concluded that “supplementing whey protein offers a clear advantage to anyone seeking greater body strength and/or lean body mass.”(1)

These results may be due to the fact that whey protein positively influences anabolism─the process by which food is changed into muscle tissue. Another factor is that whey protein is one of the best sources of leucine, an essential amino acid that stimulates the development of lean muscle mass, among other benefits.(2)

Another study comparing whey protein and casein (milk protein) found that when compared to the casein group, individuals consuming whey protein achieved a significantly greater gain in both lean muscle mass and strength, with a greater reduction in body fat─independent of overall body weight.(3)

What’s the bottom line? Clearly, exercise will get you fit, but the right protein along the way can simultaneously maximize your efforts and increase your results─with the same amount of activity! Is that not, by definition, “working smarter, not harder?” We all know that getting back in shape takes effort, so why not get the edge when you can?

1 Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2010 Oct;20(5):409-17.
2 J Sports Sci. 2011;29 Suppl 1:S29-38.
3 Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006 Oct;16(5):494-509.