High-Protein Vs. Low Carb Dieting

Many popular weight reduction diets recommend reducing carbohydrate consumption. Bodybuilders interested in gaining weight typically consume more protein as a percentage of total calories to build muscle mass, but a high-protein diet has also been shown to preserve muscle tissue during periods of caloric restriction. What’s the right balance? A study published in the journal Psychology & Behavior compares 4 different diet strategies.

After 3 months on a diet that restricted caloric consumption by about 60%, 132 middle-aged subjects were put on either a normal protein/normal carb, normal protein/low carb, high protein/normal carb or high protein/low carb diet for 9 months. During this period, calories were restricted by about 30% of the recommended daily amount.

Subjects lost between 24 and 31 pounds on the high-protein diets while those consuming the normal amount of protein only lost 22 to 26 pounds. So consuming a high-protein diet produced more dramatic weight loss regardless of whether carbohydrates were consumed at a normal or reduced level.

True Strength Moment: For this study, a high amount of protein was considered 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. A normal amount was 0.7 grams per kilogram of body weight. For a 200 pound subject, the daily protein target would be about 90 grams on a high-protein diet. A normal amount of protein for the same person would be 63 grams. This would include protein from food as well as supplemental sources.

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