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Double Your Protein, Lose More Fat?

Recent headlines encouraging folks to double their protein intake may be misleading. Find out whether increasing your protein intake is a good idea.

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
September 25, 2013
Episode #253

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I'm afraid there's been another outbreak of Misleading Nutrition Headlines (MNH)--a dangerous condition that seems to have reached epidemic proportions. (See for example my recent episode on Red Wine and Cholesterol). .

 

If you follow health and nutrition news, I bet you saw some variation on the following: "Double your protein to prevent muscle loss." Now, I'm a big fan of protein, for reasons I explained in my episode, "How Much Protein Should You Eat   But before you order that 16-egg omelet, let's take a closer look at the study behind the recent headlines and figure out what (if anything) it really means for you.

How to Lose Fat without Losing Muscle

When we try to lose weight, we want to lose the extra fat on our bodies. Unfortunately, dieters often lose a lot of muscle tissue as well, which is not desirable. Researchers wanted to see if increasing the amount of protein in the diet might protect against muscle loss during weight loss. And it turns out, it does! 

What Exactly Did the Study Find?

Researchers wanted to see if increasing the amount of protein in the diet might protect against muscle loss during weight loss. And it turns out, it does! 

They divided a bunch of overweight people into three groups. One group ate the Recommended Daily Allowance for protein, which amounts to about 10% of calories, or 50g per day. The second group ate twice that much and a third group ate 3 times that much.  All of these diets, by the way, fall within the Institute of Medicine's acceptable range of 10-35% of calories from protein.

Then, the researchers put all three groups on a calorie-restricted diet, during which everyone lost about the same amount of weight--approximately 2 pounds a week. But there was one big difference....

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