Colostrum, or “early milk,” is produced by all mammals shortly after giving birth to young. Colostrum provides antibodies and nutrition that aid in the fortification of developing immune systems. It is rich in high-quality protein, antibacterial substances, growth factors and bioactive components. Bovine colostrum is marketed as a source of quality protein, growth factors and immune-fortifying compounds. As a weight-loss supplement, colostrum can help to increase lean body mass, therefore increasing basal metabolic rate.
Bovine colostrum is becoming popular among trained athletes to promote exercise performance. Shing, Hunter and Stevenson, in their 2009 review of literature in the journal "Sports Medicine," indicate that bovine colostrum has elements suggestive of improved immune function, gastrointestinal integrity and improved neuroendocrine system parameters that may be taxed as a result of intensive training. The research of Shing, et al., suggests that the effects of colostrum supplementation on exercise performance may be most noted during periods of high-intensity training and recovery from high-intensity training.
In 2005, Mero, et al, examined the effects of bovine colostrum on strength performance. Twelve physically active men participated in a study to determine the effects of two weeks of bovine colostrum supplementation on muscle proteins, serum amino acids and strength performance. Participants received 20 mg of a placebo or bovine colostrum four times a day. Comparison of the bovine colostrum and placebo groups indicated that bovine colostrum supplementation did not result in an increase in training volume or markers of muscular strength. The authors concluded that two weeks of colostrum supplementation had no effect on strength performance or protein balance in young men. Future studies should examine longer periods of colostrum supplementation before dismissing colostrum as ineffective on strength performance.
Lean Body Mass
Research done by Antonio, Sanders and Gammeren in 2001, as reported in the journal "Nutrition," examined the effect of colostrum supplementation on body composition. In the study there were two groups: a placebo/whey protein group and a bovine colostrum group. Participants in each group participated in aerobic and heavy-resistance training at least three times per week for eight weeks. After the eight weeks of exercise training, the bovine colostrum group experienced a greater increase in lean body mass in active men and women than the whey protein group.
Colostrum supplementation has been shown to help increase lean body mass. Lean mass gains lead to increases in basal metabolic rate (BMR), or the energy your body needs for all its functions, such as breathing, circulating blood, hormone level adjustment and growing and repairing cells. Increased energy expenditure increases weight loss. Colostrum has a role to play in weight loss.
Shing, et al., suggest that 20 to 50 grams a day of colostrum, combined with other high-quality proteins, such as whey and casein, yield the greatest benefits.
- “Sports Medicine”; Bovine colostrum supplementation and exercise performance: potential mechanisms; Shing, Hunter and Stevenson; December 2009
- “Nutrition”; The effects of bovine colostrum supplementation on body composition and exercise performance in active men and women; Antonio, Sanders and Gammeren; March 2001
- NSCA's Performance Training Journal: Bovine Colostrum does not impact strength performance or net protein balance
- Mayo Clinic: Metabolism and Weight Loss: How you burn calories