Effect of gender on the acute effects of whey protein ingestion on energy intake, appetite, gastric emptying and gut hormone responses in healthy young adults

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Protein supplements, usually drinks rich in whey protein, are used widely for weight loss purposes in overweight adults. Information comparing the effects of whey protein on appetite and energy intake in men and women is limited. The objective was to compare the acute effects of whey-protein intake on energy intake, appetite, gastric emptying and gut hormones in healthy young men and women. SUBJECTS/METHODS: Gastric emptying (3D-ultrasonography), blood glucose and plasma insulin, glucagon, ghrelin, cholecystokinin (CCK), gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) concentrations (0-180 min), appetite (visual analogue scales), and ad libitum energy intake from a buffet meal (180-210 min) were determined after ingestion of 30 g (120 kcal) or 70 g (280 kcal) whey protein, or a flavoured-water control drink (~2 kcal) in 8 healthy young men (25 ± 2 y, 72 ± 3 kg, 23 ± 1 kg/m2) and 8 women (23 ± 1 y, 64 ± 2 kg, 24 ± 0.4 kg/m2). RESULTS: There was a protein-load effect on gastric emptying, blood glucose, plasma insulin, glucagon, ghrelin, CCK, GIP and GLP-1 concentrations, and perceptions of hunger, desire to eat and prospective food consumption (P < 0.05). Ad libitum energy intake (average decrease of 206 ± 39 kcal (15 ± 2%) for men and of 46 ± 54 kcal (0 ± 26%) for women for the mean of the intakes after the 30 and 70 g whey-protein loads) and hunger were suppressed more by whey-protein ingestion in men than women (P = 0.046). There was no difference in suppression of energy intake between the 30 and 70 g protein loads (P = 0.75, interaction effect P = 0.19). Consequently, total energy intake (protein drink plus buffet meal) increased more compared to control in women than men (P = 0.010). The drinks emptied more slowly, and plasma glucagon, CCK and GLP-1 increased less after the protein drinks, in women than men (P < 0.05). CONCLUSION: The acute effects of whey protein ingestion on appetite, energy intake, gastric emptying and gut hormone responses are influenced by gender in healthy young adults.