Saturday, October 08, 2005

Low-Carb, High-Protein Diets Help 'Lose Fat, Not Muscle' During Exercise

Donald Layman plugs low-carb/high protein diet combined with exercise

This story from The Australian puts a little muscle behind the cutting-edge concept that eating more protein will help you maximize your exercise routine.

A University of Illinois study that was published in the August 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutrition found that the women they observed in their research who ate a low-carb, high-protein diet had more productive workouts by burning more fat and building more muscle mass than those who ate a low-protein, high-carb diet.

Led by Dr. Donald K. Layman, professor of Nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the study of 48 women specifically looked at how the body composition and blood lipids of women in their late 40's with an average BMI of 33 changed during weight loss as a result of eating a high-protein, reduced carbohydrate diet compared with those who ate a low-protein, high carbohydrate diet. Both of these groups were then also divided into two different exercise groups -- one would have no formal exercise routine while the other group engaged in a supervised plan, including 5 days per week of walking and 2 days per week of weight lifting.

Conducted over a four-month span, Dr. Layman and his researchers found that those participants who ate the high-protein, low-carb program, whether they exercised or not, lost more total weight and fat mass while maintaining their muscle mass than those who ate a high-carb, low-protein diet wit or without exercise. However, the researchers were quick to point out that exercise helped to increase the loss of body fat and preserve lean muscle mass while improving overall body composition.

"There's an interactive effect when a protein-rich diet is combined with exercise and the two work together to correct body composition," Layman noted. "Dieters lose more weight and they lose fat, not muscle, which is important."

Additionally, the study found that while all groups were able to lower their cholesterol regardless of the plan they were on, those in the high-carb, low-protein group saw a bigger drop in their total cholesterol and LDL bad cholesterol while those in the high-protein, low-carb group watched their triglycerides plummet and their HDL good cholesterol go way up.

The ultimate conclusion made by Dr. Layman in this study is that eating more protein and less carbohydrates with regular exercise will improve overall body composition during weight loss and help stabilize cholesterol levels.

While this study only involved women, I think it holds true for men as well. When I started livin' la vida low-carb after reaching 410 pounds in January 2004, my body fat was about half of my overall weight. FIFTY PERCENT!!! As I started losing weight and adding a regular exercise plan to my low-carb lifestyle, I knew I was shedding away years of fat that had accumulated across my entire body.

Despite all the ignorant warnings against exercising while you are on a low-carb lifestyle because you will supposedly lose muscle mass, I was able to lose more than 180 pounds on the low-carb lifestyle in just one year and my most recent fat percentage was measured at a mind-boggling 11 percent! So much for that silly oft-repeated lie that you're losing muscle mass, huh?

And what about the fabrication that you have to "carb-up" before you go workout. That's just plain bull-honkey (as my wife Christine alway says!). I have been working out every single day for about a year and a half and not once have I felt the need to load up on carbohydrates before going to exercise. In my book "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" (releasing VERY soon), I explain the phenomenal difference between the effectiveness of a workout routine when you are on a low-carb program versus a low-fat diet. It will be a real eye-opener for many!

Dr. Layman said eating protein and reducing carbs "enhances the effectiveness of an exercise regime far better" than low-fat, low-protein, high-carb diets. More and more athletes have already begun to realize this fact and are choosing livin' la vida low-carb to enhance their workouts. That means they will be eating more meat, cheese, and eggs while cutting out poor carbohydrate choices such as sugar, white flour and starchy foods which will lead to better health and fitness. Maybe my friend Adam "Diet King" Wilk will change his mind about exercising his right not to exercise now, no?

You can send Dr. Donald Layman an e-mail at to praise him for being willing to share the facts about the positive benefits of a low-carb, high-protein diet.

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