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Nestle Nutr Inst Workshop Ser. 2011;69:97-108; discussion 108-13. doi: 10.1159/000329288. Epub 2012 Jan 18.

Effect of protein, dairy components and energy balance in optimizing body composition.

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Exercise Metabolism Research Group-Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.


Weight loss is achieved through the consumption of a hypoenergetic diet and/or increased energy expenditure through exercise. While weight loss is associated with numerous benefits, the pattern of weight loss in terms of body composition changes is not always studied. In our view, the optimum pattern of weight loss is one in which fat mass is lost and lean mass is preserved. The preservation of lean mass has important consequences due to the role of this tissue in contributing to basal metabolic rate, controlling glycemia, and contributing to lipid oxidation. We also propose that a preservation of lean mass would have important consequences in resisting weight regain after loss. We review dietary practices, including reduced consumption of dietary carbohydrate, consuming higher than recommended dietary protein, with an emphasis on dairy sources, as well as dietary calcium, to accelerate the loss of fat mass during dieting and preserve lean mass. Available evidence suggests that each practice has a highly plausible mechanistic and growing clinical rationale in terms of efficacy in promoting fat mass loss and lean mass retention during a hypoenergetic diet.

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