Increased Protein Intake and Meal
Frequency Reduces Abdominal Fat During Energy Balance and Energy
Arciero PJ, Ormsbee MJ, Gentile CL, Nindl BC, Brestoff
JR, Ruby M. Increased protein intake and meal frequency reduces
abdominal fat during energy balance and energy deficit. Obesity
(Silver Spring). 2013 Jan 2. [Epub ahead of print]
Unrefined, complex carbohydrates and lean protein diets are used
to combat obesity, although it's unknown whether more frequent
meals may improve this response. The effects of consuming
traditional (~15%) versus higher (~35%) protein intakes as three
or six meals/day on abdominal fat, postprandial thermogenesis
(TEM), and cardiometabolic biomarkers in overweight individuals
during 28 days of energy balance (BAL) and deficit (NEG),
respectively were compared.
DESIGN AND METHODS:
Overweight individuals (n = 30) were randomized into three groups:
two high-protein groups (35% of energy) consumed as three (HP3) or
six (HP6) meals/day and one group consumed three meals/day of a
traditional intake (TD3). Following a 5-day baseline control
(CON), subjects consumed their respective diets throughout a
56-day intervention consisting of two, 28 day phases: a BAL
followed by a NEG phase (75% of energy needs). Total body fat (BF)
and abdominal BF (ABF), body weight (BW), TEM, and fasting
biomarkers were assessed at the end of CON, BAL, and NEG phases.
RESULTS: BW remained stable throughout CON and BAL in all
groups, whereas BF (P < 0.001) and ABF (P < 0.01) decreased
in HP groups and lean body mass (LBM) and leptin increased in HP6.
Following NEG, BW decreased in all groups. BF, ABF, and leptin
decreased in HP groups; LBM remained higher (P < 0.05), and TEM
was highest in HP6 (P < 0.05).
Consuming increased protein (~35%) more frequently (6×)
throughout the day decreases BF and ABF, increases LBM and TEM,
and favorably affects adipokines more than current recommendations
for macronutrients consumed over three meals/day in overweight
individuals during both BAL and NEG.
As you can see from the graph above, a diet high
in protein boosts energy expenditure, and this effect is boosted
by eating six rather than three meals a day.
In this study researchers examined 30 inactive overweight people,
average age of 45, that lasted for 2 periods of 28 days which was a
total of 56 days. During period 1 the subjects ate exactly the same
number of calories every day as they burned [BAL]; during period 2
they were only given 75% of the number of calories they burned daily
The 1st group was called the TD3 group which ate three meals
consisting of 15% of the calories coming from protein, 60% from
carbohydrates and 15% from fat.
The 2nd group was called the HP3 group which ate three meals a day
consisting of 35% protein, 45% carbohydrates and 20% fat.
The 3rd group (HP6) ate six meals a day which was the same
consistency of the HP3 group.
At the end of the 2 periods (56 day) of the testing the HP3 and HP6
groups lost significantly more gat then the TD3 group. Further, the
HP6 group lost body fat t a significantly faster rate that did the
HP3 and TD3 groups. The HP6 group also gained a significant about of
lean body mass while the other two lost small amounts.
Researcher wrote: "Extrapolating to all meals eaten during the BAL
and NEG period (56 days total) would result in an expenditure of
3444.0, 3259.2, and 6333.6 total kcals for TD3, HP3, and HP6,
respectively, and clearly highlights the profound impact of
increased dietary protein and meal frequency on thermogenesis and
The fact that only the HP6 group actually gained lean tissue means
that when in a negative caloric balance is very important to a
bodybuilder. This to me means that when dealing with subjects
(bodybuilders) that are doing weight training in combination with a
diet (NEG) it is very possible to gain muscle mass while losing body
fat. Especially when using anabolic steroids and hGH. So keep the
protein high and spread the meals out to a minimum of 6 meals a day.
Kind of blows these fasting diets out of the water IMHO. Protein
stimulates thermogenesis and that has been known for years, the
combination of extra protein and keeping a steady supply in the diet
through frequent meals must also stimulate protein synthesis, even
in those who donít exercise.