High- and normal-protein diets are associated with a higher metabolism and more storage of muscle mass than fat. To maintain this higher metabolism, dietary protein levels must remain high. This was postulated by Elisabeth Frost, researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, during ObesityWeek 2014.
According to Frost, the body should be capable of burning more energy when a high protein diet is consumed. Therefore, she researched whether a diet with high or normal protein values would lead to less weight gain when consuming excess calories. Also, the long term effect of a high protein diet was assessed.
Sixteen healthy volunteers participated in this study, who received a diet with varied protein amounts. Follow-up of the subjects was eight weeks, in which their metabolism rate was measured after every meal.
Remarkable was the measured difference in the behaviour of the body storing calories. Participants on a high- or normal-protein diet stored 45% of excess calories as lean tissue or muscle mass. Those on a low-protein diet stored 95% of the excess calories as fat. Also, results showed that high metabolism is not sustained as a result of a high-protein diet.
According to Steven R. Smith, president of the Obesity Society, this research sheds new light on the efficacy of high-protein diets. “They certainly can be effective for weight loss or to build muscle mass, but the diet composition must be maintained to sustain results.”
ObesityWeek is the biggest annual congress on obesity, organised by the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and the Obesity Society, two organisations that have been conducting research on obesitas for over sixty years.
Source: Obesity Society.
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