1. In this randomized controlled trial, there was no difference in weight, body mass index (BMI), or body fat content between subjects who consumed moderate versus high levels of lean beef during the first 3 months of weight loss maintenance.
2. Furthermore, in both high- and moderate-protein intake groups, cardiometabolic risk factors, such as cholesterol content and blood pressure, were improved during the weight maintenance phase compared to pre-weight loss values.
Evidence Rating Level: 1 (Excellent)
Maintaining weight loss is highly challenging and may be further hindered by reductions in metabolically active lean tissue mass and resting energy expenditure (REE) during weight loss. High-protein diets have been known to help reduce lean tissue loss and REE reductions during weight loss. Red meat is particularly high in protein, and although red meat consumption has been associated with increased cardiometabolic risks, most prior studies have not distinguished between processed and unprocessed red meats. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of unprocessed red meat consumption on weight loss maintenance and cardiometabolic risk.
This randomized controlled trial conducted in Denmark included 80 adults between the ages of 18 and 65 years who were overweight (BMI 28-40 kg/m2) and who underwent an 8-week rapid weight loss program. Patients were excluded if they experienced a bodyweight change of >5% within three months of the study, were vegetarian, vegan, or pregnant, or had a history of diabetes, eating disorders, cancer, or heart, liver, or kidney disease. Patients were randomized to either a weight maintenance diet with moderate-protein intake of 25g beef/day (n=45) or a high-protein diet with 150g beef/day (n=35) for 12 weeks. Primary outcomes were mean body weight, fat mass, and body fat content after the 12-week weight maintenance phase. Secondary outcomes included cardiometabolic risk factors, including resting blood pressure, blood glucose level, and cholesterol content.
The results demonstrated that both moderate- and high-protein diets resulted in similar decreases in mean body weight, mean fat mass, and mean body fat content during the weight maintenance phase. Mean lean mass and mean REE increased similarly between the two groups. Additionally, cardiometabolic risk factors showed an overall improvement throughout the study and were similar between the moderate- and high-protein groups. However, the study was limited by the relatively short weight maintenance phase which may not accurately reflect the timeline of weight regain following weight loss. Nonetheless, the study demonstrated that high unprocessed red meat consumption may aid in weight loss maintenance without significantly affecting cardiometabolic risk.
Click to read the study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
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