Research Summary – A Higher Protein Diet Can Help Improve Body Composition in Health

An ever-expanding waistline is a need for concern, not just because you may not like how you look in the mirror, but also because you become at a greater risk for having severe health issues.  Sure it may not seem like something you have to deal with fresh out of college or even in your 30s, but life has a way of making you less and less active and just as hungry.  A number of dieting approaches exist and carbohydrate restriction has become and continues to be a popular way for dieting individuals to lose weight.

A recent study by a large group of investigators now based out of Texas A&M University had 221 obese women complete a 10-week diet and exercise program [1].  Some of the women had already developed a condition known as insulin resistance while some of the women had not.  Insulin resistance is one of the key factors that develops as people gain more weight and become closer and closer to being diagnosed as someone with type 2 diabetes.  Diabetes is a disease which afflicts millions of people and is something more and more people are affected by each year.  Each group of women (those with insulin resistance and those without) were asked to follow a 3 day per week exercise program providing a total of 90 minutes of exercise per week and a diet with either higher levels of carbohydrate or higher protein.  A number of health and fitness measures were taken and the subjects who ingested more protein in their diet experienced greater weight loss and fat loss while experiencing smaller decreases in lean tissue.

These results were consistent across all groups, which means that a diet higher in protein may help obese women with and without insulin resistance lose more weight and more fat, while also more effectively preserving valuable muscle tissue.  Considering health-related changes, those individuals who consumed more protein also experienced greater reductions in the levels of glucose in their blood and key hormones which are linked to obesity.  Additionally, those people who would be considered in the poorest health, those who already had insulin resistance, experienced the greatest improvements in markers of health when a diet higher in protein was followed.

In summary, a diet higher in protein when consumed by a group of obese women at risk of developing further disease was responsible for greater improvements in body mass, fat mass and key health-related factors in the blood when compared to women who consumed a diet higher in carbohydrate.  These results are as important for healthy, lean people as they are for people who have some pounds to lose and may be at risk for disease.  Eating a diet higher in protein than carbohydrate when combined with a modest, regular exercise program can significantly improve body composition and health and could also be considered an effective approach to help maintain any weight loss and improvements in health as well. Just more proof that more adding more protein to your active lifestyle is a good idea!


  1. Kreider, R.B., et al., A carbohydrate-restricted diet during resistance training promotes more favorable changes in body composition and markers of health in obese women with and without insulin resistance. The Physician and sportsmedicine, 2011. 39(2): p. 27-40.