Study: Increase Protein to Decrease Fat
Bodybuilders and fitness athletes have known it for a long time; if you want to lose body fat a low-glycemic/high-protein diet is the way to go.
What is a “low glycemic” diet? It’s the kind of diet that keeps blood sugar and insulin levels low. The word glycemic relates to blood sugar levels, and blood sugar levels relate to insulin levels. What is most desirable from a weightloss and health standpoint are low, stable blood sugar and insulin levels, not high or unstable levels. A low-glycemic diet is free of the simple sugars that would otherwise raise blood sugar and insulin levels such as those in sweets, sodas, fruit juice, refined carbs and starches. Instead, the low-glycemic diet emphasizes high protein, moderate amounts of healthy fat along with complex carbs and fiber from vegetables and whole grains. Complex carbs break down into simple sugars, but slowly, so they don’t raise blood sugar or insulin levels very much.
And how much protein is “high protein?” Well that depends on who you ask, but a common and useful minimum figure would be 1g of protein per pound of ideal body weight per day from a combination of all dietary sources. Some would suggest even more than that if you’re dieting and training hard. The more physically active you are, especially if engaged in strength and fitness training, the higher your protein needs.
Virtually all bodybuilders and fitness athletes – people whose livelihood depends on their maintaining an ultra-lean physique – consume low-glycemic diets because, they would tell you, they work. They key to making them work is using a protein supplement. When on a higher- protein diet, you’ll find it’s expensive, impractical and relatively unhealthy to try and obtain all of your dietary protein from protein-rich foods alone; meats, fish, dairy. This is a major factor in the near-universal popularity of protein powders among dietary supplements.
But what about non-bodybuilders or people who have an especially hard time losing weight like diabetics and those with the related metabolic-syndrome?
Until recently, increasing protein in the context of a low glycemic diet as ananti-obesity strategy has lacked the clinical validation of the more conventional doctor-recommended approach to weight loss. That approach emphasizes reducing overall calorie and fat intake while increasing physical activity. It doesn’t emphasize protein or glycemic status. So this standard approach may not be the best option for those who have the greatest difficulty in losing fat, such as persons with the pre-diabetic metabolic syndrome or full-blown diabetes. They may need other, better dietary options that take impaired insulin function into account.
Researchers from the Department of Human Nutrition, at the University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark just published a study that concludes that there is indeed evidence supporting the high-protein low-glycemic diet for weight loss. They found that this approach of increasing protein at the expense of carbs “increases the satiating effect of the diet….induces a spontaneous weight loss, and…could turn out to be a preferred option for patients with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.”
We hope this finding leads to others that will help dispel the obsolete notions that a high-protein, low-glycemic diet is for bodybuilders only or that it will necessarily lead to undesirable weight gain.