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Eat Protein, Lose Bodyfat

Twenty-four overweight or obese men and women were randomly assigned to one of three groups for a three-month nutrition and exercise intervention.

It’s high time you left behind those who are stuck in a carbohydrate-centric world. Unless you plan to run 26.2 miles or compete in the Ironman World Championships, having a dietary focus on carbohydrates is like watching the Pussycat Dolls and focusing on their ankles. The most important nutritional factors when it comes to losing bodyfat are what? If you answered protein and fat, go to the head of the class. Those are the two macronutrients that you must emphasize. Especially protein. 

Scientific studies have shown that a high-protein intake combined with aerobic and resistance exercise can improve body composition and cardiovascular risk profile more than a traditional—that is, low—protein intake combined with moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. In fact, the popular notion that those looking to lose weight should limit themselves to 15 percent protein is part of the nonsense promulgated by mainstream clinicians with waist circumferences that come eerily close to the average yearly snowfall in Buffalo. What happens when you eat more protein? Let’s find out. 

Twenty-four overweight or obese men and women were randomly assigned to one of three groups for a three-month nutrition and exercise intervention: 

1) High-protein diet and high-intensity resistance and cardiovascular training (high protein + exercise)

2) Moderate-protein diet combined with high-intensity resistance and cardiovascular training (moderate protein + exercise)

3) High-protein diet only (high protein + no exercise) 

Interestingly, all groups experienced significant and similar losses of bodyweight, body mass index and total and abdominal percentages of bodyfat and similar improvements in insulin sensitivity. So eating lots of protein by itself is a way to lose bodyfat. 

Also, the high protein + exercise group had decreased total cholesterol and triglycerides and increased insulinlike growth factor 1 and IGFBP-1. The moderate protein + exercise group experienced decreases in total cholesterol too, whereas the high protein + no exercise group had increases in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, total cholesterol-to-HDL, IGF-1 and IGFBP-1. 

This study points out several key issues:

1) To improve body composition, just eat more protein.

2) High-protein diets are good for your health.

3) High-protein diets are good for your heart.1

4) Don’t get your dietary advice from the American Heart Association.

To expand on that last point, here is some brilliance from that vaunted group: “The American Heart Association doesn’t recommend high-protein diets for weight loss. Some of these diets restrict healthful foods that provide essential nutrients and don’t provide the variety of foods needed to adequately meet nutritional needs. People who stay on these diets very long may not get enough vitamins and minerals and face other potential health risks.”2 What, pray tell, is the AHA talking about? IM


Editor’s note: Listen to Dr. Jose Antonio and Carla Sanchez on their radio show Performance Nutrition, Web- and podcast at Dr. Antonio is the CEO of the International Society of Sports Nutrition— His other Web sites include,, and


1 Arciero, P. J., et al. (2008). Moderate protein intake improves total and regional body composition and insulin sensitivity in overweight adults. Metabolism. 57:757-765.

2 American Heart Association. (2008). High-Protein Diets. Retrieved from American Heart Association Web site,

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