|You may have heard that low calorie diets are the best way to lose weight. Low calorie diets do result in fat loss. That's for sure. And that's what everybody wants. But, unfortunately, that's not all they do. The same diets that cause fat loss also cause muscle loss. And nobody wants that because it will decrease your metabolism. A decrease in metabolism is what causes people to regain the weight.
So what's the best way to lose fat while losing the least amount of muscle and maintaining a healthy metabolism? A new study gives us a very clear answer to that question.
The researchers looked at 72 overweight and obese men and women. The first thing they did was determine their metabolism, their muscle weight (lean body mass weight), and their diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure. Then they put them all on a very low calorie diet – only one-third of the amount of calories that their bodies needed. However, they varied the diet of each group.
One group ate a diet that had the normal amount of protein – 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. The other group had 50% more protein, 0.54 grams per pound of body weight. After six months, they re-measured the metabolism, muscle weight, and blood pressure. Here's what they found.
Both the regular and the higher protein diets resulted in the same amount of weight loss. However, the people on the higher-protein diet ended up with a higher metabolism, less loss of muscle, and a lower diastolic blood pressure.
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The researchers then repeated the experiment, only this time the calorie reduction was not as great – two thirds of the amount of calories that their bodies needed. The results were still the same. The higher protein diet preserved metabolism and muscle better than lower protein intake. And it also caused a greater decrease in diastolic blood pressure.
The results of this study make sense. Muscle is made of protein. So a diet higher in protein should preserve muscle better. And when it spares muscle, it also maintains a healthier metabolism. The result is not more weight loss. You lose the same amount of weight. However, since it maintains your metabolism, the chance of regaining the weight is much less. And isn't that what it's all about? Who wants to lose weight just to regain it back again? Here are some general guidelines for you based on the study.
A person weighing 150 pounds should be on a weight loss diet that contains at least three ounces of protein per day. A 200-pound person should have at least four ounces. And a 250-pound person should have at least five ounces. This is enough to maintain your muscles and still let you lose the weight.
Finding your Real Cures,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
REF: Soenen S, Martens EA, Hochstenbach-Waelen A, et al. Normal Protein Intake Is Required for Body Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance, and Elevated Protein Intake for Additional Preservation of Resting Energy Expenditure and Fat Free Mass. J Nutr. 2013 Feb 27.
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