Everyone gained weight during the overeating period. However, people in the low-protein diet lost 2.2 pounds in muscle mass, while those in the normal- or high-protein groups gained muscle mass during the overeating period. Muscle weighs more than fat, which is why they gained more weight. The excess calories turned to fat among participants who ate a low-protein diet.
The make-up of the weight -- lean muscle or fat -- may be even more important than the number on the scale or body mass index, said Dr. David Heber, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of California, Los Angeles, and co-author of an editorial accompanying the new study. "Calories count," he said. He encourages a high-protein, low-fat diet that is rich in colorful fruits and vegetables. "We are talking about lean protein such as white-meat chicken, ocean fish, turkey, egg whites and certain protein powders. Protein is more satiating, and helps reduce appetite," he explained.
Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St Louis, said: "This study provides support to the calories-count message as it relates to percent of body fat. I find the conclusion of this study especially helpful in encouraging people to be aware of the calories they consume and to avoid focusing on just where those calories come from."
Learn more about protein at the American Diabetes Association.
SOURCES: Leanne Redman, Ph.D., assistant professor, endocrinology, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, New Orleans; Connie Diekman, director, university nutrition, Washington University, St Louis; David Heber, M.D., Ph.D., director, Center for Human Nutrition, University of California, Los Angeles; Jan, 4, 2012, Journal of the American Med
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