When you lose fat and retain muscle you are reshaping your body – and that’s why most people are dieting to begin with. So let’s look more carefully at the recent study that has been generating all the headlines (Pasiakos et al, The FASEB Journal, 27: 3837-3847, 2013). This was a randomized control study with 39 young (21), healthy and fit men and women who were only borderline overweight (BMI = 25).
One group was assigned a diet containing the RDA for protein (about 14% of calories in this study design).
The high protein (28% and 42%) diets caused almost 2X more fat loss (5 pounds versus 2.8 pounds) than the diet supplying the RDA amount of protein.
In case you didn’t notice, there was no difference in overall results between the 28% (2X the RDA) and 42% (3X the RDA) diets.
The value of this study is that it defines for the first time the upper limit for how much protein is required to preserve muscle mass in a weight loss regimen. 3) Higher protein intake does not appear to offer any additional benefit – at least in young adults.
5) These diets were designed to give 7 pounds of weight loss in 21 days – which is what the experts recommend. The more we learn, the more it looks like we should really make the time to exercise on a regular basis. A study reported several years ago in the British Journal of Cancer (98: 1864-1869, 2008) showed that moderate intensity exercise significantly reduces cancer incidence and decreases cancer deaths in men. When men who walked or cycled an average of 30 minutes a day were compared to men who exercised very little, there was a 5% (non-significant) decrease in the incidence of new cancer and a 33% increase in 5-year survival after cancer diagnosis!
When they looked at men who walked or cycled an average of 60 minutes a day, the 5-year survival after cancer diagnosis was about the same as for the men who were exercising for 30 minutes a day, but there was a statistically significant 16% decrease in the incidence of new cancer diagnosis compared to men who exercised very little.
A 16% decrease in new cancer diagnosis and a 33% decrease in 5-year cancer survival after a cancer diagnosis – now that’s pretty significant!
If you are a man, this study shows that moderate intensity exercise has the potential to decrease both your chance of developing cancer and your survival if you do get cancer – and as little as 30 minutes of exercise a day can make a difference. But the sad fact is that less than 50% of the men in this country exercise for 30 minutes even 5 days a week- and 15% are bona fide couch potatoes. So it’s time to dust off that exercise cycle or lace up your walking shoes and get moving. The statements in these articles have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Disclaimer: At Health Tips from the Professor, we only recommend products that we’ve either personally checked out ourselves, or that come from people we know and trust. NOTE: If URLs do not appear as live links in your e-mail program, please cut and paste the full URL into the location or address field of your browser.
In Belgium the product is sold under the name "Rilatine" and in Brazil and Portugal as "Ritalina".
There are lots of diets out there – high fat, low fat, Paleolithic, blood type, exotic juices, magic pills and potions. These volunteers were put on a 21 day weight loss program in which calories were reduced by 30% and exercise was increased by 10%.
In the other two groups the carbohydrate and fat content of the diets was decreased proportionally.
28% of calories is sufficient, and there appear to be no benefit from increasing protein further. High protein diets (~2X the RDA or 28% of calories) do appear to be the safest, most effective way to preserve muscle mass and enhance fat loss in a weight loss regimen. What some people call high protein diets are laden with saturated fats or devoid of carbohydrate. The major exception would be people with kidney disease, who should always check with their doctor before increasing protein intake.
Other studies suggest that adding the amino acid leucine to a high protein diet can give 100% retention of muscle mass in a weight loss regimen – but that’s another story for another day. Several of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very bothersome to inform the truth then again I’ll certainly come again again.
Other studies have shown that regular exercise is just as beneficial in reducing cancer risk and increasing cancer survival in women. Other studies have shown that exercise is equally effective at decreasing cancer risk and improving cancer survival in women. If this were the only study of this type one might seriously question whether the results were applicable to middle aged, overweight coach potatoes. I would add the caveat that there are studies suggesting that protein requirements for preserving muscle mass may be greater in adults 50 and older.
However, it is significantly more protein than the average American consumes when they are trying to lose weight. The diet in this study, which is what I recommend, had 43% healthy carbohydrates and 30% healthy fats.
The only other caveat is that protein metabolism creates a lot of nitrogenous waste, so you should drink plenty of water to flush that waste out of your system. If you want to get a high protein diet from vegetable protein it just requires a bit more planning or use of well designed supplements because many vegetable proteins are incomplete by themselves and their is often less protein per serving. Any Health Care changes should be made only after consulting with your Doctor and licensed Health Care Advisor.
However, there have been several other studies with older, more overweight volunteers that have come to the same conclusion – namely that high protein diets preserve muscle mass and enhance fat loss.
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