This close to my bodybuilding competition, there’s not much in the way of edible products which I can test, but one recent review product which made it through was Optimum Nutrition‘s new Lean Whey. Here’s this week’s fitness kit I’ve reviewed.
So, what’s the deal with “diet whey” proteins? To be honest with you, I’m never convinced. Whey isn’t going to make you lose (or gain) weight per se, it’s just protein. What matters is what you have it with, when you have it, how much you have of it… etc. The way I feel about “diet wheys” is similar to the way I feel about protein powder “pinked up” and branded for women. Is there really any point, or is it clever marketing?
Let’s delve deeper into ON’s Lean Whey.
Aimed directly at people wanting to lose body fat, those looking for a lower-calorie, lower-carb protein powder, Lean Whey has the following per (26g) serving:
1.2g fat (0.4g saturates)
1.4g carbs (0.6g sugars)
As well as a protein blend (whey protein concentrate, isolate and milk protein isolate), Lean Whey contains three ingredients which place it in the “diet whey” category:
– CLA (in the form of safflower oil) – 234mg per serving
Conjugated Linoleic Acid is a mixture of fatty acids which are often promoted as “fat burning” due to their effect on the metabolism of glucose/lipids but research suggests it doesn’t have a noticeable effect in active, relatively lean and healthy people. Examine.com (which by the way is fantastic – bookmark it!) suggests the optimal dosage of CLA to be 3,200-6,400mg daily.
– l-carnitine – 130mg per serving
l-carnitine is a compound which can increase our mitochondrial ability to burn fat. It also improves insulin sensitivity and has been shown to help repair neurons from damage. However, it’s only really needed by (and certainly only beneficial for) people deficient in l-carnitine. Examine.com suggests optimal daily dosage of l-carnitine to be 500-2,000mg.
– green tea extract – 78mg per serving
I do like green tea extract and believe it’s beneficial, not just to fat loss but to heart health and a great deal more. However, I typically take 800-1200mg/day whilst dieting (in capsule form – not tea! That would be a lot of tea). A cup of green tea will contain (roughly) 50mg and you’ll need to take 400mg+ spread throughout the day to have any noticeable effects on fat loss or weight management.
Looking at the nutritional stats and dosages, it’s no wonder that Lean Whey left me hungry when I used it PWO this week (with my own added carbs). 98kcals isn’t much, and nor is 20g protein. The additions (particularly the green tea) are sound, but the dosages aren’t high.
I’m not convinced that taking Lean Whey over any other basic, simple whey (or indeed other type of protein such as a plant-based one) would result in weight loss, unless because the kcals and protein amount are low. I definitely felt hungrier, and the shake seemed more watery than I’m used to.
On the plus side? It tastes good (chocolate, strawberry and vanilla – with the strawberry surprising me – I wouldn’t normally like berry flavours). It mixed well and went down the hatch nice and easily after my delightful depletion workouts this week.
I have to be honest and say I wouldn’t buy this, and my worry about recommending it is that you’d say “but I’m so hungry!” and might assume all whey protein shakes will leave you with a rumbling stomach. My advice would be to get a basic whey (or plant protein powder) and supplement with green tea (as a priority) and then l-carnitine/ALCAR and fatty acids separately.
But by all means do your own research and make your own choices!
Thank you for the samples, Optimum Nutrition people!
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.