What happens when you eat mostly protein? Well if you are not up on the latest research you might just think more protein equals weight gain or maybe even that the extra protein is wasted and does not contribute to any change in body composition.
But I am excited to share a recent study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in October, http://www.jissn.com/content/12/1/39, entitled “A high protein diet (3.4 g/kg/d) combined with a heavy resistance training program improves body composition in healthy trained men and women – a follow-up investigation”.
A very high protein (HP) diet, ≥3 g protein/kg/d, three times greater than current recommended intakes, was tested and compared with a “normal” protein (NP) diet. Forty eight fit male and female volunteers completed the study that coupled diet and heavy resistance training types of exercise (not aerobic activity) that was designed to increase strength and lean body mass.
For 8 weeks participants trained 5 days per week and ate either normal or high amounts of protein from food or protein powder. No significant changes in carbohydrate or fat consumption occurred in either group. Calories did not change in the NP group but there were significantly more calories and more protein consumed in the HP group.
Performance, health and body composition were measured.
The authors explain that:
- the specific training plan resulted in an adaptive response because both groups experienced changes in body composition as a 1.5 kg gain in lean body mass with significant improvements in strength and performance for squats, bench press, pull-ups and vertical jump.
- gains in body fat are unlikely to occur with protein overfeeding
- eating a high protein diet (2 grams/kilogram of body weight) of protein/day as a minimum) is safe.
Kudos to Dr. Jose Antonio and his group at Nova Southeastern University. The findings are ground breaking and long awaited for those of us who do not place a heavy emphasis on calories (with the belief that the calorie theory supporting more calories consumed would automatically translate into greater fat mass gained) and instead choose to focus more on manipulating macronutrient (carbohydrate, protein and fat) distribution to achieve desired body composition results.
Positive and significant changes in body fat percent were seen in both groups. While the NP group lost a little over half a pound, the HP group lost about 3.5 pounds of fat and body fat was decreased by 2.4%.
What does this mean for you?
There may be an additional tool that can be offered to those who are looking to lose weight or improve lean body mass. Speak with your doctor and ask about this study. If you get the green light (maybe work up to the level of high intensity exercise if you are not active at all) and are a candidate, try this “Real Deal” Combo. A high protein diet (2 grams of protein/pound of ideal body weight) coupled with high intensity resistance (not aerobic) workouts 5 days a week. While it may go against current dietary and activity recommendations, it just may be the “fix” you need.