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In the study, 39 physically active people who were normal weight or overweight, but not obese, were put on one of three diets:
On all three diets, less than 30% of daily calories were from fat, and the total number of calories consumed per day was determined by weight for each individual in the study. For the first seven days, calorie consumption was intended to maintain weight, but for the next 21 days, calorie consumption was reduced in order to trigger weight loss.
Throughout the study, the researchers monitored body weight, body composition (muscle, fat, and bone mass), and rate of muscle tissue production. They found:
“The major finding from this controlled, human trial was that consuming dietary protein at levels above the RDA spared fat-free mass while promoting the loss of body fat in response to short-term, moderate energy deficit [calorie shortage],” the study’s authors said. In addition, their findings suggested that increasing protein intake above twice the RDA did not add extra benefits.
Although the long-term safety of high-protein diets is still in question, this study shows that a high-protein weight-loss diet may protect bones and muscles in the short term. If you’re considering a high-protein weight-loss diet, be sure to consult with a healthcare professional about these and other options for increasing intake:
(FASEB J 2013;27:3837–47)
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