People looking to get a head start on losing fat weight might consider adding high quality protein meals to their diet. New research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests that protein causes the body to burn calories instead of having them stored away as body fat.
Scientists wanted to know how consumption of different levels of protein affected weight gain, body composition and the ability to burn calories. So they selected 25 healthy men and women (ranging from 18 - 35 years of age) who volunteered for a 12 week stay at an inpatient metabolic unit. During the first part of the experiment they consumed weight stabilizing diets. After that they were randomly assigned to a low protein diet group (5% protein), normal protein control group (15 % protein) or high protein group (25% protein) and subjected them to 8 weeks of overfeeding - that's overeating in regular speak.
By the time the experiment wound to a close, the scientific investigators had gathered a tremendous amount of information.
High Quality Proteins Burn Fat
Volunteers who consumed low amounts of protein gained less weight than the normal protein and high protein test groups. But their ability to burn calories didn't improve at all. By contrast, volunteers who ate normal and high protein diets had higher metabolisms and more lean body mass than people who ate low amounts of protein.
What this means is that people who restrict the amount of protein in their diet may not gain much weight compared to people who consume higher amounts of protein, but they'll also have less lean body mass.
Now before you rush off to the supermarket to load up on protein meals, you must know that the people who partipated in the experiment were closely monitored in a controlled setting. Their meals were carefully chosen and their physiological responses were closely monitored.
Overconsumption of protein can be as dangerous as underconsumption of the nutrient. Too much protein can lead to toxicity and other life threatening complications. Therefore the middle of the curve is the safest place to be.
But why does protein help the body burn fat? Part of the answer lies in the thermogenic effect. Food is comprised of billions of molecules which are linked together by chemical bonds. For the purpose of this article, I'm going to limit the discussion to covalent bonds.
Covalent bonds link amino acid molecules together so they can form a protein chain. Protein bonds are very strong indeed. But heat can sever the link.
When you eat a well done steak, do you notice that you sweat a little? That's because your body is using energy to break the steak's protein bonds. It's part of the digestive process and it takes a certain amount of energy to get the job done. When you burn energy, you can't store it away.
Secondly, the human body is composed of fat, skeletal and muscle tissue. Protein plays a part here, too. Among other things, protein is responsible for maintaining the cytoskeleton. When you eat protein, a lot of it is used to keep your bones and muscles healthy.
And finally, muscle tissue is very active and requires a lot of fuel. So, when you have a lot of lean muscle, you're going to burn more calories and store less fat.
So taken all together, when you eat protein, you're helping your body to become lean and strong.
Just make sure that you're doing it the right way. If you're thinking about losing weight, talk to your doctor about setting up a nutrition program that is best suited to your needs.
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Bray, G., Smith, S., de Jonge, L., Xie, H., Rood, J., Martin, C., Most, M., Brock, C., Mancuso, S., & Redman, L. (2012). Effect of Dietary Protein Content on Weight Gain, Energy Expenditure, and Body Composition During Overeating: A Randomized Controlled Trial JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 307 (1), 47-55 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2011.1918
"Health Tip: Eat High Quality Proteins To Burn Fat" copyright 2012 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy. All Rights Reserved.