No Bone Benefit in Young Healthy Women from 3 Months Resistance Training or Protein


Effects of resistance training and protein supplementation on bone turnover in young adult women.

The strength of aging bone depends on the balance between the resorption and formation phases of the remodeling process. The purpose of this study was to examine the interaction of two factors with the potential to exert opposing influences on bone turnover, resistance exercise training and high dietary protein intake. It was hypothesized that resistance training by young, healthy, untrained women with protein intakes near recommended levels (0.8 would promote bone formation and/or inhibit bone resorption, and that subsequent supplementation to provide 2.4 g would reverse these effects.
Bone formation was assessed with serum bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BAP) and osteocalcin (OC), and bone resorption with urinary calcium and deoxypyridinoline (DPD). Biochemical, strength, anthropometric, dietary, and physical activity data were obtained from 24 healthy, untrained, eumenorrheic women (18-29 y) at baseline, after eight weeks of resistance training (3 d.wk(-1), approximately 1 hr.d(-1); 3 sets, 6-10 repetitions, 13 exercises, 75-85% maximum voluntary contraction), and after 12 weeks of resistance training and 10 days of protein/placebo supplementation. Subjects were randomized (double-blind) to either a high protein (HP) or training control (TC) group and, during the final 10 days, consumed either enough purified whey protein to bring daily protein intake to 2.4, or an equivalent dose of isoenergetic, carbohydrate placebo.
Strength, lean tissue mass, and DPD increased significantly in both groups over time, while percent body fat and BAP decreased (repeated measures ANOVA, p < or = 0.05, Bonferroni correction). No significant changes were observed for serum OC or urinary calcium, and no significant group (TC, HP) x time (baseline, week 8, week 12) interactions emerged for any of the biochemical measures.
(1) Twelve weeks of high-intensity resistance training did not appear to enhance bone formation or inhibit bone resorption in young adult women, as assessed by biochemical markers of bone metabolism. (2) Subsequent maintenance of a high protein intake for 10 days in these regularly-training, calcium-replete women also showed no effects on bone metabolism.

Mullins NM, Sinning WE
Nutr Metab (Lond) Aug 2005
PMID: 16098231 | Free Full Text

The results are surprising. The full study is available using the link above. The authors note that these women were taking calcium supplements.

…to exclude the potential effects of calcium deficiency, each subject was given a supply of calcium supplements … to begin consuming for the duration of the study. Each was instructed to carry the calcium tablets in her purse or backpack, and was regularly reminded to consume one 500-mg tablet, twice per day.

There may not have been much more bone enhancement to gain.

…the subjects were healthy, eumenorrheic, calcium-replete women, regularly participating in high-intensity exercise.

They measured alkaline phosphatase, serum osteocalcin, urinary calcium. and urinary deoxypyridinoline.

It is possible that other biomarkers may have produced different results, and that, given a longer time frame, bone densitometry could detect osteogenic effects.