Higher Protein Intake Plus Exercise Preserves Muscle Mass During Weight Loss

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Professor Stuart M. Phillips Ph.D., FACSM, FACN Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, CANADA Exercise Metabolism Research Group – Protein Metabolism Research Lab Director, Physical Activity Centre for Excellence

Prof. Stuart Phillips

Professor Stuart M. Phillips Ph.D.,
FACSM, FACN

Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, Canada
Exercise Metabolism Research Group – Protein Metabolism Research Lab
Director, Physical Activity Centre for Excellence

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Prof. Phillips: During weight loss with diet only people lose both muscle and fat and muscle. The long-term health consequences of losing metabolically active muscle versus fat are not likely to be beneficial. In the context of this study we thought perhaps the preservation of muscle would also be important in very active young men. We wanted to see whether when men were in a very large energy deficit (40% less energy than they required) higher protein (2.4 g/kg/d) could preserve muscle mass and still result in increased function (strength) and fitness.

Our results show that during a marked energy deficit that consumption of 2.4 g protein/kg/d was more effective than consumption of a diet containing 1.2 g protein/kg/d in promoting increases in LBM (1.2 vs 0.1kg increase) and losses of fat mass (-4.8kg vs. -3.5kg) when combined with a high volume of resistance and anaerobic exercise.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Prof. Phillips: Higher protein intakes combined with exercise, even during a very large energy deficit, prevent the loss of muscle mass. This would have important ramifications for older individuals, athletes, those with metabolic dysfunction, and people wishing to lose inert body fat versus metabolically active skeletal muscle

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Prof. Phillips: We need to employ this in a more sustainable framework! It was hard work for the subjects and we think that people couldn’t keep this up for a long time. We also need to test this in women. 

Medical Research: Is there anything else you would like to add?

 

Prof. Phillips: This was a proof-of-principle trial. We controlled diet and exercise and the protein supplement very tightly so it’s applicability to ‘real world’ scenarios is perhaps limited, but it’s possible and it can work. We think these findings have far-reaching implications for how some weight loss programs might be structured to promote a better ‘quality’ of weight loss, that is lost weight with the highest possible fat to lean ratio.

Citation:

Higher compared with lower dietary protein during an energy deficit combined with intense exercise promotes greater lean mass gain and fat mass loss: a randomized trial1,2 Thomas M Longland, Sara Y Oikawa, Cameron J Mitchell, Michaela C Devries, and Stuart M Phillips
AJCN. First published ahead of print January 27, 2016 as doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.119339.

Professor Stuart M. Phillips Ph.D.,, & FACSM, FACN (2015). Higher Protein Intake Plus Exercise Preserves Muscle Mass During Weight Loss 

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