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The Influence of 8 Weeks of Whey-Protein and Leucine Supplementation on Physical and Cognitive Performance

Thomas B. Walker, Jessica Smith, Monica Herrera, Breck Lebegue, Andrea Pinchak, and Joseph Fischer

The purpose of this study was to investigate the ability of whey-protein and leucine supplementation to enhance physical and cognitive performance and body composition. Thirty moderately fit participants completed a modified Air Force fitness test, a computer-based cognition test, and a dual-energy X-ray-absorptiometry scan for body composition before and after supplementing their daily diet for 8 wk with either 19.7 g of whey protein and 6.2 g leucine (WPL) or a calorie-equivalent placebo (P). Bench-press performance increased significantly from Week 1 to Week 8 in the WPL group, whereas the increase in the P group was not significant. Push-up performance increased significantly for WPL, and P showed a nonsignificant increase. Total mass, fat-free mass, and lean body mass all increased significantly in the WPL group but showed no change in the P group. No differences were observed within or between groups for crunches, chin-ups, 3-mile-run time, or cognition. The authors conclude that supplementing with whey protein and leucine may provide an advantage to people whose performance benefits from increased upper body strength and/or lean body mass.