How do you avoid the proverbial treadmill of weight loss and weight gain? As far back as 50 years ago, it was common for athletes to eat more than your average daily serving of protein. Why is protein so important? First of all, you need the amino acids (which are the building blocks of protein) for the repair and rebuilding of muscle that’s been torn down from exercise. And, you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to tear down your muscles from exercise.
Your Uncle Ned and Aunt Susie working out on the stair stepper or doing some new yoga move will experience delayed-onset muscle soreness (which is the result of tiny rips or tears in muscle). So, eat protein to repair this. But, here’s the kicker. Protein has another great benefit. It helps you maintain your weight loss! So, get this: you go on your favorite diet, you lose weight and then you just gotta figure out how to keep those pounds off. The answer is protein.
Here’s the proof: A recent study examined 113 overweight subjects that followed a low-calorie diet for 4 weeks. They followed up with a weight-maintenance (WM) diet for 6 months after that. During WM, subjects were divided into either a protein group or a control group. The protein group consumed an additional 30 grams per day of added protein (an extra 120 calories) in addition to their own usual diet. The control group didn’t consume anything extra.
Both groups lost similar amounts of weight during the four-week low-calorie diet.
During WM, the protein group had a higher-protein intake, which makes sense since they consumed an extra 30 grams daily. But, they also had the following great things happen. The protein-consuming group gained less weight and had smaller waist measurements. Also, the weight gained by the protein group was fat-free mass (which is mainly muscle). Satiety in the fasted state before breakfast increased significantly more in the protein group compared to the control group. So what does this all mean?
If you lose weight, it makes sense to consume an additional 30 grams of protein daily to help maintain the weight loss. Now, you might be scratching your head and asking yourself, “So you mean I can eat more calories [120 calories] in the form of protein and keep the weight off and whatever weight I do gain back is mainly muscle?” The answer to that is a YES!
Why do you think fitness enthusiasts so strongly embrace and consume protein? Because it’s good for your muscles, helps you feel more satisfied, and helps keep the fat off after losing weight. This is further proof that “not all calories are created equally.” So, don’t think an extra 120 calories of a donut will work as well as 120 calories of lean protein.
By Dr. Jose Antonio, eDiets.com, March 2006