Is the Placebo Effect of Whey Protein Beneficial?
If you have ever wondered why some women benefit from fad diets and health trends that clearly have no scientific backing, you are likely witnessing some variation of “the placebo effect” in action. The benefit experienced is typically psychological, rather than resulting from the properties contained within the placebo.
The science is complicated, so it’s not all that easy to understand the placebo effect. A simple way to look at it is comparing conditions we know cannot be cured through positive mental reaction, such as cancers. However, when placebos are given to subjects who are suffering from psychological conditions, including depression, anxiety or body dysmorphia, they may experience notable improvements.
Is Whey Protein a Placebo?
Whey protein is not a placebo for a number of reasons – not least among them is the fact that it actually has an observable effect on biological processes at a cellular level. The mechanisms of the body are well understood in relation to protein synthesis. It is, therefore, not completely accurate to claim that taking whey protein as a supplement has a placebo effect.
Numerous peer-reviewed studies have established that subjects given whey protein for weight loss and muscle gain showed significantly better results than those who were given other supplements or a placebo. If the placebo effect were a major factor in the studies, the results would reflect as much across the board. Now, if your brain isn’t already hurting, we probably shouldn’t tell you that there is also a placebo effect from taking whey protein.
The Whey Protein Placebo Effect
As already mentioned, the placebo effect provides psychological benefits that present through better mental or physical health. Although whey protein is largely responsible for physical benefits which are observable through the body’s biochemistry, there are still potential placebo effects from our humble 25 grams of protein per serving.
If you believe your whey protein supplement is doing you good immediately after taking your very first shake, you will find the motivation to exercise or forego that snack you were hungering for minutes earlier. Positive mental attitude plays a large part in the placebo effect, which is why it is not necessarily considered a negative in the medical science community.
Dispelling the Myths
One of the main reasons the placebo effect is measured for in scientific studies is to help increase the effectiveness of medications or treatments. If double-blind placebo tests were not carried out, many studies would return inaccurate results, which could lead to reduced effectiveness from essential treatments. However, the value of the placebo effect is more than appreciated and encouraged in various branches of science and medicine.
So, in summary, believing that a placebo effect is all you need, or that it’s a cure for everything are both factually incorrect statements. The truth is somewhere in the middle, and it’s important to understand the distinction, depending on the subject being discussed.
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