Protein works better with fat

Science by Dr. Ben Bikman

One of the primary reasons people focus on protein in the diet is to help maintain or develop muscle mass. And for good reason! Having adequate muscle is one of the best deterrents to mortality—we fight off aging and even death better with more muscle [1]. Given this, wouldn’t you want to know if you could help the protein you eat work better?

After we exercise, our muscles grow, albeit too slightly to notice. In a laboratory setting, we can actually take a small biopsy of the muscle and measure the degree to which the muscle makes new muscle protein (i.e., gets bigger). By giving people a load of protein, we can increase this muscle protein growth following exercise. However, by giving people protein AND fat, in a balance of 1:1, we can actually make the muscle protein growth go beyond the protein alone [2]! Yes, protein plus fat does a better job than protein alone.

This synergy that comes from protein plus fat is reflected in nature; the best sources of protein, such as whey, egg white, and beef, always come with fat!

 

References

1. Fukasawa, H., et al., Lower thigh muscle mass is associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in elderly hemodialysis patients. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2017. 71(1): p. 64-69.

2. van Vliet, S., et al., Consumption of whole eggs promotes greater stimulation of postexercise muscle protein synthesis than consumption of isonitrogenous amounts of egg whites in young men. Am J Clin Nutr, 2017. 106(6): p. 1401-1412.