Just about every JYM Army member should be aware that consuming higher amounts of protein not only helps to build more muscle, but also helps to increase fat loss. In Part 2 of this series, I discussed a 2016 study that further drives the point home. And now, yet compelling evidence…
Researchers from McMaster University had obese young men follow a 4-week training program that involved lifting weights and HIIT cardio six days per week while following a calorie deficit diet. They split the subjects into two different groups. Although both groups consumed the same amount of calories, one group received 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day and the second group consumed only 0.5 grams of protein per pound.
At the end of the 4-week program, the group consuming more protein lost more body fat than the lower protein group – nearly 5 pounds more! Plus, the higher protein group gained 3 pounds of muscle while the lower protein group didn’t gain any muscle at all! That’s right, despite being on a calorie-deficit diet the subjects consuming more protein were still able to build muscle while also dropping over 10 pounds of body fat!
Jim’s Take-Home Point:
Am I surprised by this study? Not at all. I’ve known for years that high-protein diets can allow for both muscle building and fat loss. In fact, if the researchers in this McMaster study included a truly high protein group consuming 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight, muscle mass gains would have been even better and fat loss would have also been improved (again, see Part 2 of this series for details on the study comparing 1.5 to 1.0 grams of protein).
The McMaster researchers were surprised that the higher protein subjects did not gain significantly more strength than the lower protein group, despite the increase in lean muscle mass. I’m not as surprised as they are. These were essentially obese beginners, with little to no weight-training experience. The strength gains that beginners make during the first few months of training are mainly neurological adaptations; higher protein wouldn’t influence the changes that take place in the motor nerves that innervate the muscles. Beginners tend to make similar strength gains regardless of their diet and supplementation.
This study just confirms what we in the JYM Army already know: that high protein works. Now let’s hope the rest of the world finally starts catching on!
Longland, T. M., et al. 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 trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, in press, 2016.