Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Weight Control
People lose more than pounds on high-protein diets
Eileen Yager, Communications Officer, Extension & Ag Information, University of Missouri, firstname.lastname@example.org
People trying to shed excess weight on high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets could be losing more than pounds, according to a University of Missouri Extension expert.
On high-protein diets, people consume too few
carbohydrates, which can make them tired and irritable, said
Nutrition Specialist Susan Mills-Gray of Harrisonville, Mo.
“When people lose weight on high-protein diets, a lot of
the weight loss comes from muscle loss rather than fat
loss,” she said. “If you lose muscle mass, you will feel
Carbohydrates provide energy for the muscle system. “When
there are not enough carbohydrates, the body will revert to
breaking down protein for its energy source,” Mills-Gray
said. “Protein is used to repair muscle. If the body is
using protein as an energy source, it can’t build muscle.”
Adequate carbohydrates also are necessary for the body to
produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that controls mood.
“Carbohydrates allow that process to take place,” she
said. “Without adequate carbohydrates, people get pretty
While high-protein diets are effective in taking off
pounds, the weight loss is the result of cutting calories,
not food choices, Mills-Gray said.
“When you cut calories by cutting out foods, you have
less selection, and you’re going to grow weary of that, so
you’re going to eat less,” she said.
Mills-Gray said quick weight loss from restrictive diets
leads to rapid weight regain.
“Restricting foods slows down the metabolism,” she said.
“When you return to a normal diet, your metabolism is still
going slow. It takes a long time to rev up your metabolism.”
For lasting weight loss, Mills-Gray said, “you’ve got to
use more calories than you take in, choose foods with high
nutritive value and increase your activity.
“People should eat a variety of foods in moderation,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with having a candy bar or soda once in a while. It’s probably not realistic that you’re not going to have those things once in a while.”
Source: Susan Mills-Gray MS, Nutrition Specialist - (660) 380-8460
Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009