Can you live longer by taking whey protein?

I would say the odds are good. In any case, it works in mice. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation promotes survival and supports cardiac and skeletal muscle mitochondrial biogenesis in middle-aged mice.


Department of Physiology, Human Physiology Unit, Pavia University, Pavia 27100, Italy.


Recent evidence points to a strong relationship between increased mitochondrial biogenesis and increased survival in eukaryotes. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) have been shown to extend chronological life span in yeast. However, the role of these amino acids in mitochondrial biogenesis and longevity in mammals is unknown. Here, we show that a BCAA-enriched mixture (BCAAem) increased the average life span of mice. BCAAem supplementation increased mitochondrial biogenesis and sirtuin 1 expression in primary cardiac and skeletal myocytes and in cardiac and skeletal muscle, but not in adipose tissue and liver of middle-aged mice, and this was accompanied by enhanced physical endurance. Moreover, the reactive oxygen species (ROS) defense system genes were upregulated, and ROS production was reduced by BCAAem supplementation. All of the BCAAem-mediated effects were strongly attenuated in endothelial nitric oxide synthase null mutant mice. These data reveal an important antiaging role of BCAAs mediated by mitochondrial biogenesis in mammals.

The best way to get a daily dose of branched-chain amino acids is by ingesting whey protein concentrate, which is about 25% BCAAs. However, the mixture used in the study (“BCAA-enhanced mixture”) was a mixture of essential amino acids that was about 60% BCAAs. One could add extra BCAAs, which are readily available commercially, to whey protein to obtain a very close copy of the researchers own formula.


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