Dietary whey protein decreases food intake and body fat in rats

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011 Aug;19(8):1568-73. doi: 10.1038/oby.2011.14. Epub 2011 Feb 17.


We investigated the effects of dietary whey protein on food intake, body fat, and body weight gain in rats. Adult (11-12 week) male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into three dietary treatment groups for a 10-week study: control. Whey protein (HP-W), or high-protein content control (HP-S). Albumin was used as the basic protein source for all three diets. HP-W and HP-S diets contained an additional 24% (wt/wt) whey or isoflavone-free soy protein, respectively. Food intake, body weight, body fat, respiratory quotient (RQ), plasma cholecystokinin (CCK), glucagon like peptide-1 (GLP-1), peptide YY (PYY), and leptin were measured during and/or at the end of the study. The results showed that body fat and body weight gain were lower (P < 0.05) at the end of study in rats fed HP-W or HP-S vs. control diet. The cumulative food intake measured over the 10-week study period was lower in the HP-W vs. control and HP-S groups (P < 0.01). Further, HP-W fed rats exhibited lower N(2) free RQ values than did control and HP-S groups (P < 0.01). Plasma concentrations of total GLP-1 were higher in HP-W and HP-S vs. control group (P < 0.05), whereas plasma CCK, PYY, and leptin did not differ among the three groups. In conclusion, although dietary HP-W and HP-S each decrease body fat accumulation and body weight gain, the mechanism(s) involved appear to be different. HP-S fed rats exhibit increased fat oxidation, whereas HP-W fed rats show decreased food intake and increased fat oxidation, which may contribute to the effects of whey protein on body fat.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects*
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Energy Intake / drug effects*
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / blood
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Male
  • Milk Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Nitrogen / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Soybean Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Weight Gain / drug effects*
  • Whey Proteins


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Milk Proteins
  • Soybean Proteins
  • Whey Proteins
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Nitrogen