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Protein-rich diet boosts benefits of exercize

Everyone knows that a smart weight-loss program combines diet and exercise, but a new University of Illinois study reports that exercise is much more effective when it’s coupled with a protein-rich diet. Study participants who enjoyed more high-quality proteins in place of carbohydrates, along with regular activity, like walking, stretching and strength training, lost more weight and almost 100 percent of it was fat, while they maintained lean muscle mass.

“There’s an additive, interactive effect when a protein-rich diet is combined with exercise,” said Donald Layman, Ph.D., a University of Illinois professor of food science and human nutrition and lead researcher on the study. “The two work together to correct body composition; dieters lose more weight and they lose fat, not muscle.”

Forty-eight adult individuals participated in the four-month study, published in the August 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutrition. One group ate a protein-rich diet and a second group consumed a diet that contained higher amounts of carbohydrates. Both groups consumed the same number of calories, but the first group substituted high-quality protein foods, such as lean meats, lowfat dairy and eggs, for some of the foods high in carbohydrates, such as breads, rice, cereal, pasta and potatoes.

“Both diets work because when you restrict calories, you lose weight. But the people on the higher-protein diet lost more weight,” said Layman. “The protein-rich diet also dramatically lowered triglycerides and had a statistically significant effect on abdominal fat, both risk factors associated with heart disease.”

According to Layman, a diet including high-quality proteins, such as lean beef, lowfat dairy products and eggs, can improve the overall quality of your diet while helping you lose weight too.


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