By Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., Rita La Rosa Loud, B.S., Michelle Pearson, M.S., and Samantha Vallier, A.S.
For long term results it is important to have increased protein for weight loss
It is important to consider increased protein for weight loss in addition to an exercise program. Research shows dieting alone results in only a temporary reduction in body weight because about 25 percent of the weight loss associated with typical diet programs is lean (muscle) weight.1
Muscle loss leads to resting metabolic rate reduction,15 which facilitates fat gain when normal eating patterns are resumed. Because most diet programs reduce caloric intake from all food groups, many dieters accelerate lean weight loss by consuming too little protein.8
Approximately 70 percent of American adults are overweight or obese, even though almost the same percentage of men and women report that they are following reduced calorie diet plans.11
This further reinforces that dieting alone is not an effective lifestyle intervention for attaining and maintaining a desirable body weight, let alone for achieving an ideal body composition.
Without increased protein for weight loss, expect only a temporary reduction in body weight
Following an extensive review of weight loss research studies, Mann and associates8 concluded that diet programs rarely lead to sustained improvement in body weight or health parameters and that very few dieters maintained their weight loss.
On the other hand, several research studies show that resistance exercise can concurrently increase lean weight, increase resting metabolic rate, and decrease fat weight.2,7,10
Likewise, research reveals that adding increased protein for weight loss can further enhance weight loss by increasing lean weight retention and fat weight loss.3,4,13,15
Our 6-month study with a focus on increased protein for weight loss
In a recent 6-month weight loss study our participants increased their lean weight by almost 4 pounds and decreased their fat weight by 14 pounds, for a 10-pound reduction in body weight and an 18-pound improvement in body composition.14 How did they achieve this beneficial result?
The participants performed regular resistance exercise. In addition, they consumed 2 daily meal-substitute protein-rich shakes to meet the increased protein for weight loss recommendation and ate between 1,200-1,500 calories per day (women) or 1,500-1,800 calories per day (men).
Even more impressive, the participants in our follow-up 6-month weight maintenance study sustained their weight loss while continuing to increase lean weight and decrease fat weight.
Although these subjects no longer restricted their caloric intake, they continued to do regular resistance exercise and drink one daily meal-substitute protein-rich shake to continue to meet the need of increased protein for weight loss.
Our more recent 3-month study with a focus on increased protein for weight loss
Based on these findings, we decided to do a 3-month study with two groups of older adult fitness clients who typically experience relatively high levels of muscle loss and fat gain, namely, obese/overweight individuals and arthritis patients.
By 2020, approximately 60 million Americans will suffer from arthritis5, which is associated with and exacerbated by muscle loss and fat gain.10
We placed both groups of study subjects on the same strength training program (10 resistance machine exercises; 1 set; 8-12 repetitions; 2-3 days/week). We also encouraged all of the program participants to follow the increased protein for weight loss diet plan used in our previous studies.
We ran two minor studies concurrently using reasonable caloric restriction, increased protein for weight loss, and basic resistance exercise
We ran these two minor studies concurrently: one for the older adults whose main objective was to lose weight (and improve body composition); one for the older adults whose main objective was to reduce arthritic symptoms (and improve body composition).
The overweight participants were fine with our general dietary (calorie restriction and increased protein for weight loss) and exercise recommendations, and trained accordingly.
The arthritic participants were much less inclined to change their dietary and physical activity patterns, including increased protein for weight loss.
But, they were especially cautious with the resistance exercise, using relatively light weights and progressing to slightly heavier loads very gradually.
Undoubtedly, they were fearful of aggravating their arthritis and attempting to avoid flare-ups. We did not have a problem with this, and allowed them to train in a most conservative manner.
Table 1. Three-month changes in selected assessments for obese/overweight old adult participants in the increased protein for weight loss focused program (N=10; average age 69 years).
|Body Weight||-6.5 lbs.|
|Percent Fat||-3.0 %|
|Fat Weight||-7.6 lbs.|
|Lean Weight||+1.1 lbs.|
As shown in Table 1, the obese/overweight subjects were successful in attaining their objectives of improved body weight and body composition.
Similarly, as presented in Table 2, the arthritis patients’ experienced desirable reductions in general body pain and general body fatigue.
Table 2. Three-month changes in selected assessments for older adult arthritis patients in the increased protein for weight loss focused program (N=6; average age 71 years).
|Body Weight||-3.1 lbs.|
|Percent Fat||-1.1 %|
|Fat Weight||-2.8 lbs.|
|Lean Weight||-0.3 lbs.|
|General Body Pain||-2.2 points (5.2 to 3.0)|
|General Body Fatigue||-1.2 points (4.0 to 2.8)|
Reasonable caloric restriction, increased protein for weight loss, and basic resistance exercise is effective for reducing body weight and improving body composition. This is with concurrent fat loss and muscle gain.
We actually gained some valuable and practical information from this relatively small and simple study.
- First, we confirmed the results of two previous 3-month weight loss research studies,12,13 .
In these studies the subjects attained essentially the same improvement in percent fat (-2.6%; -2.9%; -3.0%), approximately the same amount of fat weight decrease (-7.0 lbs.; -7.1 lbs.; -7.6 lbs.), and similar amounts of lean weight increase (+0.8 lbs.; +1.7 lbs.; +1.1 lbs.) as in our present study.
These relatively consistent program outcomes indicate that the combination of reasonable caloric restriction, increased proten for weight loss, and basic resistance exercise is effective for reducing body weight and improving body composition with concurrent fat loss and muscle gain.
- Second, we discovered that older adults who have arthritic conditions may prefer to make smaller dietary modifications and to perform resistance exercise at more moderate effort levels.
The fact that our older arthritic patients took a more cautious approach to increased protein for weight loss and strength training is certainly understandable.
In fact, their more gradual adoption of and adaptation to our recommended resistance exercise and nutrition program may have been a major factor in their improved general body pain and fatigue scores.
We conclude that:
- The resistance exercise and nutrition program (moderate calorie restriction with increased protein intake for weight loss) incorporated in this and our previous studies is highly effective for reducing body weight and improving body composition.
This is with concurrent fat loss and muscle gain in obese/overweight older adults; and
- This resistance and nutrition program (moderate calorie restriction with increased protein intake for weight loss) is beneficial for reducing general body pain and fatigue in older arthritic patients, while eliciting modest improvements in body weight and body composition.
Create a niche for yourself
You can make a difference in the lives of older adults by implementing a good senior fitness training program for your older adult fitness clients. This article taught you some of the reasons why a good weight reduction program should include increased protein for weight loss.
But, you need to have an adequate knowledge base to create a niche for yourself in senior fitness training.
The American Academy of Health and Fitness is here to help you with this all-important training you will need to be a safe and effective trainer of older adults. We offer a varied selection of in-depth, advanced continuing education courses.
You will find training in areas such as senior health and fitness, fitness assessment, senior strength training, back stability, fitness nutrition for special dietary needs, lifestyle wellness coaching and cancer exercise.
Certainly everything you need to learn from experts like Wayne Westcott and create your niche in senior fitness training!
- Ballor D, Poehlman E. Exercise training enhances fat-free mass preservation during diet-induced weight loss: a meta analytic finding. Inter J Obes 1994; 18:35-40.
- Campbell WW, Crim MC, Young VR, Evans WJ. Increased energy requirements and changes in body composition with resistance training in older adults. Am J Clin Nutr 1994; 60:167-175.
- Campbell W, Trappe T, Jozsi A, et al. Dietary protein adequacy and lower body versus whole body resistive training in older humans. J Physiol 2002; 542:631-642.
- Campbell W, Trappe T, Wolfe R, Evans W. The recommended dietary allowance for protein may not be adequate for older people to maintain skeletal muscle. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2001; 56:M373-M380.
- Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Ogden CL, Curtin LR. Prevalence and trends in obesity among US adults, 1999-2008. JAMA 2010; 303(3):235-241.
- Hunter GR, Wetzstein CJ, Fields DA, et al. Resistance training increases total energy expenditure and free-living physical activity in older adults. J Appl Physiol 2000; 89:977-984
- Jakeman P. Protein supplementation at breakfast and lunch for 24-weeks beyond habitual intakes increases whole-body lean tissue mass in healthy older adults. J Nutri 2016; 146:65-69.
- Mann T, Tomiyama J, Westling E, et al. Medicare’s search for effective obesity treatments – diets are not the answer. Am Psych 2007; 62(3):220-233.
- Pratley R, Nicklas B, Rubin M, et al. Strength training increases resting metabolic rate and norepinephrine levels in healthy 50-to-65 year-old men. J Appl Physiol 1994; 76:133-137.
- Sharif S, Thomas JM, Donley DA, et al. Resistance exercise reduces skeletal muscle cachexia and improves muscle function in rheumatoid arthritis. Case Reports in Medicine, Article ID 205691, doi:10.115/2011/205691, 2011.
- Serdula MK, Mokdad AH, Williamson DF, et al. Prevalence of attempting weight loss and strategies for controlling weight. JAMA 1999; 282(14):1353-1358.
- Westcott W, Apovian C, Puhala K, et al. Nutrition programs enhance exercise effects on body composition and resting blood pressure. Phys Sportsmed 2013; 41(3):85-91.
- Westcott W, Colligan A, Puhala K, et al. Exercise and nutrition effects on body composition and blood measures in overweight adults. J Exerc Physiol online 2017; 20(1):200-220.
- Westcott W, Martin W, La Rosa Loud R, Stoddard S. Protein supplementation and body composition changes. Fitness Manage 2008; 24(5):50-53.
- Wolfe I. The unappreciated role of muscle in health and disease. Am J Clin Nutr 2006; 84:475-482.