Men with high cholesterol can do their bodies well through strength training, without the need for protein supplements, a small study suggests.

Strength training is known to build muscle mass, aid weight loss and help lower cholesterol. The new study looked at whether protein supplements - either from whey (a milk-based protein) or soy - offered added benefits to overweight men with high cholesterol.

Many weightlifters use protein supplements, mostly whey-based, in the belief that they are required for building muscle. Few use soy-based supplements, but in theory, such products could be particularly beneficial for men at risk of heart disease because soy may cut cholesterol levels.

In the current study, however, neither whey nor soy supplements improved the men's strength, body fat percentage or cholesterol levels beyond the benefits of strength training alone.