The science-backed way to lose fat and build lean muscle

High protein diets — like the one I have advocated and followed myself for the past 25 years — are finally getting their day in the sun.

And trust me, the golden glow is going to last way longer than a day. High protein is here to stay. Because at this point, you simply can’t argue with all the research behind this diet’s benefits.

Like this new study, for example…

A team of researchers at Canada’s McMaster University recently published a paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It featured results from a trial of 40 overweight men, all with BMIs over 25.

As part of the study, scientists split the men into two groups — assigning one half a higher protein diet, while the other half kept to a lower protein plan. The idea was to see which of the two eating strategies delivered the most benefits in terms of fat losses and lean muscle gains.

To that end, the study provided the subjects with all of their food and drink for the next four weeks. Each diet was tailored to each man’s personal requirements, accounting for both body composition and activity level.

And yes, there was activity — a lot of it. All the study subjects performed rigorous training sessions — a mix of circuit, resistance, and high-intensity interval-based routines — on six out of seven days a week for the entire 28-day study period.

The only difference was that one group consumed 49 extra grams of post-workout whey protein daily — while the other group received only 15 extra grams. This put the first group at roughly three times the RDA for protein (which as you know is woefully inadequate as it is).

I doubt it will take you long to guess which group came out on top.

Results showed that the higher protein group increased lean muscle mass and lost more fat compared to the lower-protein group. But even the lower protein came away with some noteworthy benefits.

Unlike the high protein group, this group didn’t gain any muscle. But that extra 15 grams of protein did help them to maintain their lean body mass.

This is an important distinction. Because when you combine high-intensity exercise with a “restricted” diet (not deprivation, mind you…just a set number of calories, as these men were given), your body will start breaking down both muscle and fat to get the energy you need. Unless you make up for it with added protein.

Any way you slice it, more protein means more lean muscle mass. And even a modest boost to your normal protein intake can help to ward off losses of lean mass while you’re dieting and exercising.

For the record, I recommend consuming at least your weight in grams of protein every single day. (If you’re looking to build up muscle mass like the guys in this study, you can double that requirement.)

And yes, a whey protein shake — post-workout, or any time of the day — is an excellent way to keep your bases covered. Look for a shake that’s low in sugar (no more than 8 grams of total carbohydrates per serving) and keep preparation simple. No frills, no extras. (Except a tablespoon of macadamia nut oil to ward off hunger and fire up fat-burning, if you’d like,)

Just add water or blend with ice, and enjoy.