A high-protein diet helps people burn belly fat and lose weight, research finds.
People who eat more lean meats combined with low-fat dairy lose more weight than those on a standard diet.
High-protein diets — around 30 percent of calories from protein — can also help to lower blood sugar and lipid levels.
The women in the study were able to lose weight without losing any bone mass, researchers found.
Dr Ellen Evans, study co-author, said:
“This is an important finding because many people, especially women in mid-life, are concerned with both obesity and osteoporosis.
Furthermore, treating obesity often increases risk for osteoporosis.
Many people lose bone mass when they lose weight.”
The study included 130 overweight people.
The researchers put half on a high-protein and dairy diet and the other half on a regular weight loss diet, based on the food pyramid.
Dr Evans said:
“Essentially we substituted lean meats and low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, etc., for some of the high-carbohydrate foods in the food-pyramid diet.
Participants also ate five servings of vegetables and two to three servings of fruit each day.”
The results showed that both groups lost the same amount of weight.
However, a previous study by Professor Donald Layman found that high-protein diets help reduce belly fat.
Those on the high protein diet maintained better bone health.
Dr Matthew Thorpe, the study’s’ first author, said:
“In the higher-protein group, bone density remained fairly stable, but bone health declined over time in the group that followed the conventional higher-carbohydrate diet.
A statistically significant treatment effect favored the higher-protein diet group.
The combination and/or interaction of dietary protein, calcium from dairy, and the additional vitamin D that fortifies dairy products appears to protect bone health during weight loss.”
The study was published in the Journal of Nutrition (Thorpe et al., 2008).