Eat Your Protein To Lose Weight! Especially If Your A Menopausal Women …

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Eating Protein Throughout the Day Preserves Muscle and Physical Function in Dieting Postmenopausal Women, Study Suggests

Women trying to lose weight after menopause should be careful to consume enough protein, a new study suggests. The study, by the University of Illinois, found that eating protein all through the day helped dieters lose more weight by suppressing the feeling of hunger, and also helped them maintain valuable muscle mass.

Ellen Evans, a former U of I associate professor of kinesiology and community health and member of the university’s Division of Nutritional Sciences, said, “A higher-protein weight-loss diet is more protective of muscle.”

The scientists studied how body composition affects physical functionality.  Dieting by post-menopausal women can lead to muscle loss, which in turn can lead to loss of function, according to researcher Mina Mojtahedi; “That loss can affect their strength, balance, and how well they perform everyday tasks, such as climbing stairs and getting up out of a chair.”

Women consuming more protein lost 3.9 percent more weight and had a relative gain of 5.8 percent more thigh muscle volume than woman who did not, said Mojtahedi. The study indicates that higher protein intake during weight loss can help maintain more muscle relative to the amount of weight lost. Women who achieve a healthy weight while maintaining sufficient muscle mass should be able to preserve their mobility and thus their independence longer.

“When a woman has less weight to carry, even if she’s lost a bit of lean mass in her legs, the effect is that she has better physical function,” she said.

The researchers tracked 31 postmenopausal overweight women following a diet designed around the USDA’s My Pyramid. Participants were divided into two groups; one received a protein supplement to take twice a day, and the other received a carbohydrate supplement. All participants were encouraged to exercise (walking and stretching) and given diet education, including examples of healthy daily menus and a scale to measure portion size.

All the women were assessed for strength, balance, and the ability to perform ordinary minor tasks like walking 50 feet, standing up five times from a chair, and lifting a book 12 inches above shoulder height before and after the study. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was also used to measure muscle volume of the right thigh, the fat around the thigh, and the fat in the thigh muscle.

Strength decreased as weight decreased for both groups. But the researchers say that an increase in the amount of muscle relative to fat benefited both balance and performance. And carrying a healthy weight helped them in other ways. “We hypothesize that more vigorous exercise — in particular, resistance training — would preserve even more muscle,” Evans said.

The study concluded that simply adjusting the content and timing of their meals would help postmenopausal women stay healthy while losing weight.

Mojtahedi said, “We believe it’s important to eat protein in the morning and through the day so those amino acids are always available. Unfortunately, American women tend not to eat much protein, especially when they’re trying to cut calories. But it’s easy to add protein powder into a smoothie or eat a high-protein snack and incorporate a healthier diet into a busy lifestyle.”

Story Source: ScienceDaily (Aug. 11, 2011) —

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