Low-calorie diet programs reduce muscle and metabolic rate, typically resulting in full weight regain following the diet period. In contrast, a new Quincy College study featured two weekly exercise sessions and optimal protein intake to prevent muscle loss, metabolic slowdown, and weight regain.
Dr. Wayne Wescott, Chair of the Quincy College Exercise Science Program, Rita La Rosa Loud, Director of the Quincy College Health & Fitness Center, and their research colleagues hypothesized that a sensible, three-fold approach to weight loss would be more successful than the typical low-calorie diet method.
During the 6-month weight loss program, participants on average experienced a 14-pound fat loss and a 4-pound muscle gain for an 18-pound improvement in their body composition and personal appearance.
Subsequent to the 6-month weight loss program, Quincy College researchers also conducted a 9-month weight maintenance program, participants continued to reduce fat and rebuild muscle without regaining body weight. This is the first study to achieve this highly beneficial health/fitness outcome.
" Major studies in the fitness industry have concluded that approximately twenty-five percent of weight loss through dieting is actually the loss of muscle. Dieting, therefore exacerbates two of the major factors responsible for fat gain the first place, namely muscle loss and metabolic rate reduction. While it makes sense to couple a diet plan with aerobic activity, research indicates that this actually increases muscle loss, " Dr. Wayne Wescott, Chair of the Exercise Science program at Quincy College.
To prevent muscle loss, metabolic slow-down, and weight regain, the Quincy College weight loss program incorporated a moderate calorie diet (up to 1,500 calories/day for women; up to 1,800 calories/day for men), two weekly exercise sessions (20 minutes of resistance training interspersed with 20 minutes of aerobic activity), and sufficient protein intake (approximately 0.6 grams per pound of body weight). The results exceeded the researchers' expectations, with concurrent fat loss (14 pounds) and muscle gain (4 pounds).
Almost 85% of the program participants completed the 6-month weight loss study which was attributed to a manageable exercise and nutrition plan.
The Quincy College research team also hypothesized that the combination of a sensible program of exercise and protein consumption would be effective for preventing weight regain following the diet period. Again, the results were better than anticipated. Throughout the weight maintenance period, the study participants continued to lose fat and gain muscle without increasing their body weight. Nine months after discontinuing the diet, the study participants weighed the same, but had less fat and more muscle for improved body composition, personal health, and physical appearance.
Again, due to a manageable exercise and nutrition plan, almost 85% of the program participants completed the 9-month weight maintenance study.
" The three key factors for successful weight loss and weight maintenance along with desirable body composition changes are: one, reasonable reduction in food intake; two, twice a week program of resistance and aerobic exercise; and three: sufficient protein consumption. The Quincy College study highlighted that these sensible lifestyle changes are effective for attaining a healthy body weight, as well as for reversing the progressive muscle loss and fat gain that accompany the aging process."