Higher-protein diet with resistance exercise best for fat loss

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There are a myriad of ways to lose weight, but I lean generally towards diets relatively low in carbohydrate and rich in fat. This is on the basis that such diets consistently out-perform diets explicitly low in fat in terms of weight loss. Also, such diets tend to, generally speaking, bring about desirable changes in markers for disease including blood pressure, blood fat and blood sugar levels.

When it comes to exercise, I am not particularly enthusiastic about conventional advice to take plenty of aerobic exercise (e.g. walking, swimming, cycling). While this may be good for all manner of things (e.g. reduced risk of disease and improved mental health), it tends not to work for weight loss. Over the years, I’ve become a gradual convert to resistance exercise. Part of the reason for this is that it can improve body composition, might reduce muscle loss during weight loss, and also generally improves functionality (particularly important as we age).

I was interested to read of a recent study in which two diets (one higher in protein than the other) were tried in a group of overweight and obese individuals with type 2 diabetics [1]. The breakdown of these two diets in terms of calories contributed by carbohydrate, protein and fat, respectively were:

Conventional diet – 53:19:26

Higher-protein diet – 43:33:22

Each of these group was also split into two, with only one of these groups also engaging in resistance exercise 3 time a week. The study last 16 weeks.

A number of body measurements were made, including weight, fat mass and waist circumference.

Overall, the people who did worst, were those who ate the ‘conventional’ diet and did not engage in resistance exercise. Those doing best were those who ate the higher-protein diet, who did resistance exercise too.

For example, non-exercising conventional diet eaters lost an average of 6.4 kg of fat and 8.2 cm off their waists. In comparison, the higher-protein diet eating exercisers lost an average of 11.1 kg of fat and 13.7 cm off their waists.

If I had my way, for optimum results, I’d swap some of those carb calories for fat. Nevertheless, this study supports the idea that for the most effective weight loss, diets lower in carb and richer in protein, coupled with some resistance exercise, delivers the goods.


1. Wycherley TP, et al. A High-Protein Diet With Resistance Exercise Training Improves Weight Loss and Body Composition in Overweight and Obese Patients With Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care 2010;33(5):969-976

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