Supporters of high protein, low carbohydrate diets have more ammunition, thanks to a new study that examined how and why these weight loss plans maintain muscle while blasting bulges. Researchers discovered that consuming protein slows the degradation of skeletal muscle, reported News Medical on December 4.
"Reductions in muscle mass are often an unintended consequence of weight loss, and can have negative health consequences," said Stefan M. Pasiakos, Ph.D., study author from the Military Nutrition Division at the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, MA.
For that reason, researchers set out to determine how a high protein diet might be the key to maintaining muscle mass while still shredding fat. Their results showed that by providing dieters with more protein, they were able to help them lose significant amounts of weight without the negative effects of lost muscle.
"It is our hope that the findings from this well-controlled study will significantly contribute to the development of nutritional interventions designed to aid in the preservation of muscle mass during weight loss," noted Pasiakos.
To conduct the study, he and his colleagues provided volunteers with three different levels of protein. Their calories were restricted and exercise increased to result in a weight loss two pounds weekly. The researchers evaluated the volunteers at the end of the study to reveal the muscle-sparing benefits of more protein.
"A lot of diet and fitness programs focus on losing weight without regard to the type of weight you are losing, whether it be fat, muscle or water," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).
"Fortunately, it appears that by simply having a high protein intake, you can minimize the amount of muscle you lose during your weight loss effort," he concluded.
In addition to the benefits listed above, a recent study determined that high fat, high protein, low carb diets boost weight loss: Read about that research by clicking here.