A new study by Purdue University, US, found that including protein from lean sources of pork in a diet could help retain more lean body mass, like muscle, while losing weight.
The results of the research, funded by the US Pork Checkoff and conducted by Dr Wayne Campbell, were released in the journal Obesity.
Campbell, lead researcher at Purdue University’s laboratory for integrative research in nutrition, fitness and aging, and his colleagues evaluated the weight loss of 46 overweight women who followed one of two reduced-calorie diets.
One group ate a diet that included about 18% of their calories from protein. The other group ate a higher protein diet – about 30% of total calories from protein, including 170 grammes of lean pork on average per day.
“After 12 weeks, our study found that the group of women who followed a reduced-calorie eating plan while consuming a higher level of protein was more effective in maintaining lean body mass during weight loss compared to those who consumed the same amount of calories with less protein,” Campbell said.
The higher protein group retained nearly double the amount of lean body mass compared to the women on the normal protein diet. Because muscle burns more calories, the finding is important in long-term weight control.
As previous studies have evaluated the impact higher-protein diets have on a weight-loss programme, this study appears to be the first to use pork as the only source of meat, it was noted.