British Journal of Nutrition

Short Communication

Greater stimulation of myofibrillar protein synthesis with ingestion of whey protein isolate v. micellar casein at rest and after resistance exercise in elderly men

Nicholas A. Burda1, Yifan Yanga1, Daniel R. Moorea1, Jason E. Tanga1, Mark A. Tarnopolskya2 and Stuart M. Phillipsa1 c1

a1 Exercise Metabolism Research Group, Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON, Canada L8S 4K1

a2 Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, Pediatrics and Neurology, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON, Canada L8S 4K1


We aimed to determine the effect of consuming pure isolated micellar casein or pure whey protein isolate on rates of myofibrillar protein synthesis (MPS) at rest and after resistance exercise in elderly men. Healthy elderly men (72 (sem 1) years; BMI 26·4 (sem 0·7) kg/m2) were divided into two groups (n 7 each) who received a primed, constant infusion of l-[ring-13C6]phenylalanine to measure MPS at rest and during 4 h of exercise recovery. Participants performed unilateral leg resistance exercise followed by the consumption of isonitrogenous quantities (20 g) of casein or whey. Blood essential amino acids and leucine concentration peaked 60 min post-drink and were greater in amplitude after whey protein ingestion (both, P < 0·05). MPS in the rested leg was 65 % higher (P = 0·002) after ingestion of whey (0·040 (sem 0·003) %/h) when compared with micellar casein (0·024 (sem 0·002) %/h). Similarly, resistance exercise-stimulated rates of MPS were greater (P < 0·001) after whey ingestion (0·059 (sem 0·005) %/h) v. micellar casein (0·035 (sem 0·002) %/h). We conclude that ingestion of isolated whey protein supports greater rates of MPS than micellar casein both at rest and after resistance exercise in healthy elderly men. This result is probably related to a greater hyperaminoacidaemia or leucinaemia with whey ingestion.

(Received July 06 2011)

(Revised October 18 2011)

(Accepted October 19 2011)

(Online publication January 31 2012)


c1 Corresponding author: Professor S. M. Phillips, fax +1 905 523 6011, email


† These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abbreviations: EAA, essential amino acids; EX-FED, myofibrillar protein synthesis after resistance exercise; FED, myofibrillar protein synthesis at rest; t/Tr, tracer:tracee