Extra Calories, Low Protein Are Culprits in Weight Gain

There is new research that suggests that the culprit with the weight gain that is unhealthy is not overeating protein but is, instead, taking in excessive calories.

In a study that it is not recommended to try yourself, 25 participants who were healthy were given diets that contained different protein levels – and almost 1,000 surplus calories ñ over a period of eight weeks. This study was done in a hospital setting where each of the participants had been on a diet to stabilize their weight for periods of from 13 to 25 days.

Those who were given low-protein diets were shown to gain less weight than the other groups. However, the quality of the weight that was gained was lower because it resulted from increasing body fat. On the other hand, the diets with high amounts of protein resulted in better lean body mass and this caused the study subjects to burn more calories.

Leanne Redman who is in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as an assistant professor of endocrinology at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center noted that although you might have a weight gain when you eat a diet high in fat and low in protein, you may find that you gain weight more slowly but you are amassing more fat while losing more muscle.

These findings appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Associationís January 4th issue.

The researchers particularly studied the ways the protein level in the body might affect weight gain, energy expenditure and body composition. This was accomplished under conditions that were controlled tightly and highly sophisticated methods of measurement were used. All of the participants were young with their ages ranging between 18 and 25 years.

The diets given to the participants varied in the number of calories from protein that they received. There was a low-protein one with 5% calories from protein, a normal-protein one with 15% calories from protein and a high-protein one that had 25% calories from protein. All of these diets had the same amount of fat and carbohydrates. In addition, the participants were given 954 calories more than they needed every day.

During this period of overeating, they all gained weight. But those with the low-protein diet lost approximately 2.2 pounds of muscle mass while the ones with the normal- or high-protein diets were able to gain muscle mass instead. They were able to gain weight because muscle is heavier than fat. The extra calories were converted to fat for those who were eating a low-protein diet.

The composition of the weight – fat or lean muscle – seems to have been of more importance than the actual weight or the body mass index, according to Dr. David Heber who is at the University of California, Los Angeles as the director of the Center for Human Nutrition. He also co-authored a summary that accompanied the study. He noted that calories do count and he advocates a diet that is low in fat and high in protein. He says that it should emphasize fruits that are colorful and vegetables. He also notes that the protein should be ocean fish, egg whites, turkey, white meat chicken and some protein powders. Eating this type of protein may help you feel fuller and your appetite will be reduced.

The director of university nutrition in St. Louis at Washington University has also stated that this is a study which supports the message that calories do count when it comes to the percentage of body fat. I think the conclusions of this study will be very helpful to letting people know that they need to be aware of the number of calories they take in rather than putting the focus on where those calories are coming from.