Any diet will do? Not if you want to lose fat instead of muscle. Not if you want to lower your triglyceride levels so you'll be less likely to develop diabetes and heart disease. Not if you want to avoid cravings that tempt you to cheat on your diet. And not if you want to keep the weight off long-term.
"Our latest study shows you have a better chance of achieving all these goals if you follow a diet that is moderately high in protein," said Donald Layman, a University of Illinois professor emeritus of nutrition. The research was published in the March Journal of Nutrition.
Layman's new study followed the weight-loss efforts of 130 persons at two sites, the U of I and Penn State University, during 4 months of active weight loss and 8 months of maintenance.
Two previous studies had looked at short-term weight loss; this one was designed to look at long-term effects, he said.
Although both plans were equal in calories, half the group followed a moderate-protein diet (40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, 30% fat) while the other followed a diet based on USDA's food-guide pyramid (55% carbohydrates, 15% protein, 15% fat).
"Persons in the first group ate twice the amount of protein as the second group," said Layman.
And the difference in protein made all the difference in improved body composition and body lipids, he said.
Although the amount of weight lost in both groups was similar, at 4 months participants in the protein group had lost 22 percent more body fat than members of the food-pyramid group. At 12 months, the moderate-protein dieters had lost 38 percent more body fat.
"The additional protein helped dieters preserve muscle. That's important for long-term weight loss because muscle burns caloriesif you lose muscle, and you used to be able to consume 2,000 calories without gaining weight, you'll find that now you can only eat, say, 1,800 calories without weight gain," he said.<
|Contact: Phyllis Picklesimer|
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign