Al-Azhar Med. J. Vol. 47(2), April, 2018, 279-284
DOI : 10.12816/0052254
IMPACT OF WHEY PROTEIN
SUPPLEMENTATIONS ON FERTILITY
PARAMETERS OF ADULT MALE GYM-GOERS
Ali Ramadan Rabie, Ahmad Kamel Seddeik Abdel-Hameed and Abul
Fetouh Khaled Abul Fetouh Mohammed*
Departments of Dermatology, Venereology and Andrology, Al-Azhar Faculty of Medicine
and Zagazig Faculty of Medicine*
Background: Whey proteins are widely used by adult male gym-goers as a muscle-building supplement to
improve their physical appearance.
Objectives: The current study aimed to investigate the impact of this practice on fertility capacity.
Subjects and Methods: Forty adult male gym-goers, recruited during the period between August 2016 and
April 2017, received whey protein supplementation (Gold Standard 100% WheyTM, 15 gram daily) during
their gym training for 12 weeks. Body mass index (BMI), lean body mass, semen analysis and hormonal
profile (FSH, LH, PRL, T and oestrogen) were evaluated at the beginning and the end of the study.
Results: A total of 33 participants completed the study. There were significant increases in mean BMI, mean
lean body mass, and mean progressively motile sperms. Changes in semen volume, sperm count and
hormonal levels were all non-significant.
Conclusion: Whey protein supplementations did not have any negative impact on fertility capacity. Further
larger and randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm these results.
Key words: Nutritional supplementation, exercise, fertility.
Whey protein represents 20% of milk
proteins. It is derived from the watery
portion of milk which separates from the
curds during the process of cheese
production (Tsutsumi and Tsutsumi,
Whey proteins contain high
concentrations of branched-chain amino
acids (BCAAs) (Millward et al., 2008),
which are easily digested and rapidly
increase the postprandial plasma BCAA
levels (Salehi et al., 2012). BCAAs
stimulate muscle protein synthesis,
prevent muscle protein breakdown, and
may ameliorate exercise-induced muscle
damage and pain (Volek et al., 2013).
These properties of whey proteins explain
their common use in the exercise industry
as a muscle-building supplement (Josse
and Phillips, 2012).
Whey protein supplementations have
become a common practice among gym-
goers due to their expected benefit
regarding performance enhancement and
muscle building (Samal and Samal, 2017).
Although whey protein
supplementations are generally considered
ALI RAMADAN RABIE et al.
safe for most adults when used
appropriately (Tsutsumi and Tsutsumi,
2014), the possible impact of these
supplementations on the fertility potential
of adult males is not known.
The aim of the current study was to
examine the possible effects of whey
protein supplementations on the fertility
parameters of adult male gym-goers.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS
Participants: Forty adult males aged
between 18 and 33 years (mean ± SD =
24.95 ± 3.88 year) were enrolled into the
current study. Participants were recruited
consecutively during the period between
August 2016 and April 2017. All
participants engaged in a gym training
program while receiving whey protein
supplementation for 12 weeks.
Gym training program: Participants
engaged in a supervised gym training
program consisting of 60-90 minutes
daily, 3 days per week for 12 weeks (day
1: shoulders/chest/triceps, day 2:
back/biceps, day 3: legs).
Supplementation regimen: Participants
received whey protein supplementation
(Gold Standard 100% WheyTM) 15 grams
daily for 12 weeks. During the training
days, participants ingested the supplement
prior to the workout.
Clinical and laboratory measurements:
All participants underwent thorough
history taking, complete physical and
genital examination, body mass index
(BMI) and lean body mass calculation.
BMI was calculated using the formula:
BMI = weight (Kg) / height2 (Kg/m2).
Lean body mass was calculated using the
Hume formula for men: LBM (Kg) =
0.32810 x weight (Kg) + 0.33929 x
height (Cm) - 29.5336. Semen analysis of
all participants was performed according
to the WHO 2010 laboratory manual
(World Health Organization, 2010).
Reproductive hormonal profile assessment
included serum levels of FSH, LH,
prolactin (PRL), total testosterone (T) and
total oestrogen. All these measurements
were performed at the beginning of the
study and 12 weeks later.
The study protocol was approved by the
research ethics committee of the Faculty
of Medicine, Al-Azhar University. The
nature of the study was explained to all
participants who gave an informed
Statistical analysis was performed using
the IBM SPSS Statistics software (SPSS
version 23.0). The continuous data are
presented as range (mean ± SD). The
paired student's t-test was used to compare
these data at the baseline and at the end of
the study. P value ≤ 0.05 was considered
Forty adult male gym attendants were
initially recruited at the beginning of the
study. Participants aged between 18 and
33 years (mean ± SD = 24.95 ± 3.88 year).
At the end of the 12-week duration of
the study, 7 (17.5%) participants were lost
to follow-up and excluded from the study.
Therefore, a total of 33 participants
completed the study.
IMPACT OF WHEY PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTATIONS ON FERTILITY…
Compared to the initial baseline, there
was a significant increase in mean BMI
(from 24.69 to 25.01 Kg/m2, P = 0.04)
and mean lean body mass (from 59.39 to
59.78 Kg, P = 0.05) at the end of the
Semen volume and sperm count
showed non-significant increases (P =
0.42, P = 0.5 respectively). There was,
however, a significant increase in the
percentage of the progressively motile
(A+B) sperms at the end of the 12-week
period (from 62.73% to 65.76%, P = 0.05)
All changes in the hormonal profile
levels (FSH, LH, prolactin, total
testosterone and total oestrogen) were
non-significant (Table 1).
Table (1): Changes in the studied population characteristics at the end of the study (n
= 33, P value using the paired student's t-test).
Parameters Base line After 12 weeks P
) 22.86 – 26.87 (24.69 ±
0.82) 22.53 – 26.26 (25.01 ±
Lean body mass (Kg) 51.6 – 70.3 (59.39 ± 3.93) 52.4 – 68.7 (59.78 ±
Semen volume (mL) 1 – 5.5 (3.65 ± 1.23) 2.5 - 5 (3.79 ± 0.71) 0.42
Sperm count (x10
mL) 14 – 180 (79 ± 41.47) 38 – 198 (82.1 ± 42.32) 0.5
Sperm motility A+B
(%) 18 – 87 (62.73 ± 16.56) 43 – 82 (65.76 ± 11.24) 0.05
9.1 (3.67 ± 1.62)
7.1 (3.56 ± 1.19)
LH (mIU/mL) 1.6 – 9.8 (5.74 ± 1.87) 2.9 – 9.1 (5.82 ± 1.39) 0.55
17.9 (5.77 ± 3.09)
9.8 (5.71 ± 1.56)
Total T (ng/dL) 328 – 1013.3 (621.85 ±
418.1 – 978.4 (638.74 ±
(ng/dL) 1.9 – 7.2 (3.41 ± 1.34) 2.1 – 5.4 (3.15 ± 0.82) 0.07
For several decades, protein
supplementations and other performance-
enhancing substances were used only by
bodybuilders and athletes practicing heavy
sports. Recently, however, protein
supplementations became a common
practice among young adult gym-goers
wanting to improve their physical
appearance (Samal and Samal, 2017).
According to Euromonitor figures,
sports nutrition market in Egypt is
recording a positive growth and is
expected to reach E£ 68 million in 2021.
Despite rising prices, demand for sports
nutrition products is increasing, with high
numbers of young Egyptians becoming
more interested in exercising and shaping
their muscles (Momaya et al., 2015).
The current study showed that
ingestion of whey protein supplementation
(15 gram daily for 12 weeks) by regular
ALI RAMADAN RABIE et al.
adult gym-goers resulted in a significant
increase in both BMI and lean body mass.
This is in concordance with many
previous studies showing same results
(Joy et al., 2013).
BCAAs in whey protein
supplementations stimulate muscle protein
synthesis and prevent its breakdown
(Volek et al., 2013).
The significant increase in the mean
percentage of progressively motile sperms
may be attributed to the amino acid
content of whey proteins. L-arginine is a
nitric oxide precursor and acts as a free
radical scavenger and anti-oxidant
(Tripathi and Misra, 2009) and was
shown to increase sperm motility in men
with asthenozoospermia (Morgante et al.,
2010; Stanislavov and Rohdewald, 2014).
L-carnitine, which is synthesised de novo
from the two amino acids lysine and
methionine, significantly increased
percentage of motile sperms in patients
with asthenozoospermia (Wang et al.,
Another finding in the results of this
study is the non-significant decrease in
mean serum oestrogen levels at the end of
the 12-week period. The aromatase
enzyme within adipose tissue converts
testosterone to oestrogens increasing
plasma oestrogen levels (Phillips and
The decrease in serum oestrogen levels
may be related to decreased fat mass
induced by whey proteins (Flaim et al.,
2017). Although non-significant, the
decrease in oestrogen level may be of
benefit regarding the fertility capacity of
males since obesity and
hyperestrogenemia have been linked with
poor semen parameters such as decreased
sperm count and motility and increased
abnormal forms and DNA damage
(MacDonald et al., 2009).
The results of the current study showed
that ingestion of whey proteins (15 gram
daily for 12 weeks) by regular adult male
gym-goers did not have any negative
impact on their fertility parameters.
Moreover, this practice may even improve
their fertility capacity through improving
sperm motility, decreasing fat mass and
decreasing serum oestrogen levels.
To our knowledge, this is the first
study to examine the impact of whey
protein supplementation on fertility
capacity of young adult males. This study,
however, has some limitations: lack of
control group, the relatively low dose and
short duration of whey protein
supplementations. Further larger and
randomized controlled studies using
different commercial types of
supplementations and comparing different
doses and durations are recommended to
confirm these findings.
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ALI RAMADAN RABIE et al.
رﻮﻛﺬﻠﻟ ﺔﺑﻮﺼﺨﻟا ﺮﯿﯾﺎﻌﻣ ﻰﻠﻋ ﺔﯿﻨﯿﻣﻷا ضﺎﻤﺣﻷا لوﺎﻨﺗ ﺮﯿﺛﺄﺗ
ﺔﯿﺿﺎﯾﺮﻟا تﻻﺎﺼﻟا ىدﺎﺗﺮﻣ ﻦﯿﻐﻟﺎﺒﻟا
*ﺪﻤﺤﻣ حﻮﺘﻔﻟاﻮﺑأ ﺪﻟﺎﺧ حﻮﺘﻔﻟاﻮﺑأ .ﺪﯿﻤﺤﻟاﺪﺒﻋ ﻖﯾﺪﺻ ﻞﻣﺎﻛ ﺪﻤﺣأ .ﻊﯿﺑر نﺎﻀﻣر ﻰﻠﻋ
*ﻖﯾزﺎﻗﺰﻟا ﺐط ﺔﯿﻠﻛ وﺮھزﻷا ﺐط ﺔﯿﻠﻜﺑ ﺔﯿﻠﺳﺎﻨﺘﻟا و ﺔﯾﺪﻠﺠﻟا ضاﺮﻣﻷا ﻰﻤﺴﻗ
: ﺚﺤﺒﻟا ﺔﯿﻔﻠﺧ رﻮﻛﺬﻟا لوﺎﻨﺘﯾ ﻊﺳاو قﺎﻄﻧ ﻰﻠﻋ ﺔﯿﻨﯿﻣﻷا ضﺎﻤﺣﻷا ﺔﯿﺿﺎﯾﺮﻟا تﻻﺎﺼﻟا ىدﺎﺗﺮﻣ ﻦﯿﻐﻟﺎﺒﻟا
.ﻰﺟرﺎﺨﻟا ﻢھﺮﮭﻈﻣ ﻦﯿﺴﺤﺘﻟ و تﻼﻀﻌﻟا ءﺎﻨﺒﻟ ﺔﯿﺋاﺬﻏ تﻼﻤﻜﻤﻛ
:ﺚﺤﺒﻟا ﻦﻣ فﺪﮭﻟا .ﺔﺑﻮﺼﺨﻟا ىﻮﺘﺴﻣ ﻰﻠﻋ ﺔﯿﻨﯿﻣﻷا ضﺎﻤﺣﻷا لوﺎﻨﺗ ﺮﯿﺛﺄﺗ ﺪﯾﺪﺤﺗ
نﻮﻛرﺎﺸﻤﻟا:ﺚﺤﺒﻟا قﺮطو ﻰﻠﻋ ﺚﺤﺒﻟا ءاﺮﺟإ ﻢﺗ٤٠ رﻮﻛﺬﻟا ﻦﻣ ﺔﯿﺿﺎﯾﺮﻟا تﻻﺎﺼﻟا ىدﺎﺗﺮﻣ ﻦﯿﻐﻟﺎﺒﻟا
ﺲﻄﺴﻏأ ﻦﻣ ةﺮﺘﻔﻟا لﻼﺧ٢٠١٦ ﻞﯾﺮﺑأ ﻰﺘﺣ و٢٠١٧ اﻮﻟوﺎﻨﺗ ﻦﯾﺬﻟاو١٥ ضﺎﻤﺣﻷا هﺬھ ﻦﻣ ًﺎﻣاﺮﺟ
ةﺪﻤﻟ ﺔﯿﺿﺎﯾﺮﻟا تﺎﺒﯾرﺪﺘﻟا ﺔﺳرﺎﻤﻣ لﻼﺧ ﺔﯿﻨﯿﻣﻷا١٢ ﻢﺴﺠﻟا ﺔﻠﺘﻛ ﺮﺷﺆﻣ سﺎﯿﻗ ءاﺮﺟإ ﻢﺗ ﺪﻗو عﻮﺒﺳأ
ىﻮﻨﻤﻟا ﻞﺋﺎﺴﻠﻟ ﻞﯿﻠﺤﺗ و نﻮھﺪﻟا ﻦﻣ ﺔﯿﻟﺎﺨﻟا ﻢﺴﺠﻟا ﺔﻠﺘﻛو نﻮﻣﺮﮭﻟا) تﺎﻧﻮﻣﺮﮭﻟا ىﻮﺘﺴﻣ سﺎﯿﻗو
ﻞﺒﻗ ﻦﯿﻛرﺎﺸﻤﻟا ﻊﯿﻤﺠﻟ (ﻦﯿﺟوﺮﺘﺳﻻا و نوﺮﯿﺘﺳﻮﺘﺴﺘﻟا و ﻦﯿﺘﻛﻻوﺮﺒﻟا و ﺮﻔﺼﻤﻟا نﻮﻣﺮﮭﻟا و ﻞﺻﻮﺤﻤﻟا
ﺪﻌﺑ ﮫﺘﯾﺎﮭﻧ ﻰﻓ و ﺚﺤﺒﻟا ﺔﯾاﺪﺑ١٢ .عﻮﺒﺳا
:ﺞﺋﺎﺘﻨﻟا ﻢﺴﺠﻟا ﺔﻠﺘﻛ ﺮﺷﺆﻣ ﻰﻓ ﺔﯿﺋﺎﺼﺣإ تﻻﻻد تاذ تادﺎﯾز كﺎﻨھ ﺖﻧﺎﻛ ، ﺔﺳارﺪﻟا ةﺮﺘﻓ ﺔﯾﺎﮭﻧ ﻰﻓ
ﺴﺠﻟا ﺔﻠﺘﻛو ﻢﺠﺣ ﻰﻓ تاﺮﯿﻐﺘﻟا ﺎﻣأ .ﺔﯾﻮﻨﻤﻟا تﺎﻧاﻮﯿﺤﻠﻟ ﺔﯿﻣﺎﻣﻷا ﺔﻛﺮﺤﻟا ﺔﺒﺴﻧ و ، نﻮھﺪﻟا ﻦﻣ ﺔﯿﻟﺎﺨﻟا ﻢ
.ﺔﯿﺋﺎﺼﺣإ ﺔﻟﻻد نوﺪﺑ ﺎﮭﻌﯿﻤﺟ ﺖﻧﺎﻜﻓ تﺎﻧﻮﻣﺮﮭﻟا تﺎﯾﻮﺘﺴﻣو ﺔﯾﻮﻨﻤﻟا تﺎﻧاﻮﯿﺤﻟا دﺪﻋو ىﻮﻨﻤﻟا ﻞﺋﺎﺴﻟا
:جﺎﺘﻨﺘﺳﻻا ﺒﻟا رﻮﻛﺬﻟا ﻰﻓ ﺔﺑﻮﺼﺨﻟا ىﻮﺘﺴﻣ ﻰﻠﻋ ﻰﺒﻠﺳ ﺮﯿﺛﺄﺗ ﮫﻟ ﺲﯿﻟ ﺔﯿﻨﯿﻣﻷا ضﺎﻤﺣﻷا لوﺎﻨﺗ ﻦﯿﻐﻟﺎ
.ﺔﯿﺿﺎﯾﺮﻟا تﻻﺎﺼﻟا ىدﺎﺗﺮﻣ