Double your protein intake to prevent muscle mass loss

The long-held belief that decreased muscle mass is an unavoidable aspect of losing weight could be dead wrong, a new study reveals.

That's because doubling your daily allowance (RDA) of protein while also adhering to a healthy diet and exercise plan was shown to prevent the loss of muscle mass while also promoting fat loss.

The study

A team from the Military Nutrition Division at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine assigned men and women controlled diets for 31 days. One diet included the U.S. RDA for protein, a second included twice the U.S. RDA and a third included three times the U.S. RDA. For the first 10 days, participants were given enough calories to maintain their weight, after which weight loss was induced for three weeks by restricting total calories and increasing exercise to promote a two-pound loss per week.

At the end of both the weight-maintenance and weight-loss portions of the study, body composition measurements and muscle protein metabolism tests were taken.

Results

While the group who had triple the RDA of protein failed to show any additional benefits in terms of muscle retention or weight loss, the group who were eating twice the RDA showed the best results. The outcome shows that there might be an optimal – and maximal – amount of protein required for young, active adults to retain muscle during a period of weight loss.

"We believe that the RDA for protein should be based on a level to optimize health, as well as prevent deficiencies, and our data demonstrate a potential inadequacy of the current RDA for sparing muscle mass during weight loss, which may affect a significant portion of the population," study author Stefan M. Pasiakos said in a statement.

Gerald Weissman, M.D., Editor-inChief of The FASEB Journal, said the study reflects what body builders have demonstrated for a long time.

"A high-protein diet helps prevent muscle loss when trying to lose fat," Weissman noted. "Although eating a well balanced diet is still necessary for health and weight maintenance, upping one's protein intake when dieting might be a useful tool in the short term."

Results of the research are published in The FASEB Journal.

Source: Eureka Alert

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