A new study report appearing in the September 2013 issue of The FASEB states that significant muscle loss when losing weight by dieting and exercising is no longer a necessary evil! Scientists proved that doubling the amount of recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein while following a diet and exercising.
How much protein do I need?
Maybe you've wondered how much protein you need each day. In general, it's recommended that 10–35% of your daily calories come from protein. Below are the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for different age groups.
If you want an idea of how much protein you should have in your diet, use our Protein Calculator
The current RDA would be too low to spare muscle mass during weight loss
"It is our hope that the findings from this well-controlled study will be discussed and cited by the Institute of Medicine for the updated Dietary Reference Intakes on protein," said Stefan M. Pasiakos, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Military Nutrition Division at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, MA. "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."
A 31-day study tested 3 different levels of proteins
During the study that led to this revelation, Pasiakos and colleagues devised young men and women into 3 different groups that would each follow a different diet for 31 days. Group 1 followed the U.S. RDA, Group 2 had twice the U.S. RDA, and Group 3 had three times the U.S. RDA. Each individual was eating the right amount of calories to maintain constant body weight during the first 10 days, allowing their metabolism to adapt to the given dietary protein level, and then for the following three weeks, the weight loss phase was provoked by reducing the amount of calories and increasing daily exercise enough to obtain an average weight loss of two pounds per week. The staff prepared and administered all the meals and supervised the exercise. They also noted the body composition and measured the muscle protein metabolism at the end of each phase of the study (stable weight maintenance phases and weight loss phase).
This study comes to the conclusion that there are limits to the protective effect of extra protein. As such, these data suggest an optimal, and perhaps maximal, level of protein for young, active adults who may undergo short-term periods of intentional or unintentional weight loss.
This study confirms that bodybuilders were right
"This study essentially confirms what bodybuilders have shown us for a long time -- a high protein diet helps prevent muscle loss when trying to lose fat," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "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."
Suggested sources of lean protein
- Greek Yogurt
- Cheese (under 20% fat)
- Protein Powder
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