Practical Weight Loss for the New Year
Building upon Research Success, Quincy College Exercise Science Program Announces New January 2019 Weight Loss Study
By: Rita La Rosa Loud, B.S., Quincy College Health and Fitness Center
Over the past several years, Quincy College has conducted numerous research studies in the area of weight loss and weight management. Quincy College researchers have learned a lot of very useful information from all of these studies, but this past year’s research has produced the most important and practical results. If you are interested in more than just a temporary weight loss, then the following findings from the College’s most recent research programs should be of interest to you. Although essentially any reduced-calorie diet will lead to weight loss, almost all dieters regain all of the weight they lost soon after returning to normal eating.
This January, building upon the success of previous research studies, Quincy College is holding an additional research study consisting of sensible resistance exercise, reasonable calorie reduction, and increased protein intake. Instead of using commercial protein shakes, the program participants will be taught to attain their recommended daily protein intake through standard food sources. A registered dietician will present pertinent and practical nutrition workshops every other week throughout the study. This will ensure that everyone is eating healthy and nutritious foods that are most appropriate for attaining sustainable weight loss, while concurrently rebuilding muscle, recharging metabolism, and reducing fat.
Extensive analyses of numerous weight loss studies have concluded that “dieters who manage to sustain a weight loss are the rare exception, rather than the rule”. This appears to be the case in the United States, as 70 percent of American adults are presently dieting, and yet 70 percent of American adults are overweight or obese. Of course, many of the remaining 30 percent have too much fat and too little muscle resulting in an undesirable body composition. The real objective for overweight and unfit individuals should be a sustainable weight loss program that produces better body composition as well as lower body weight.
In recent years, Quincy College Fitness and Exercise Science researchers have sought to understand weight gain as we proceed through the aging process as it relates to fitness regimen and diet. Unless we do some form of resistance exercise, we lose about five pounds of muscle each decade prior to age 50, and up to 10 pounds of muscle each decade after age 50. Muscle loss is always accompanied by metabolic rate reduction (up to five percent per decade), which is inevitably followed by fat gain (generally 10 to 15 pounds per decade).
Basically, calories that were previously used for muscle activity and tissue maintenance are now put into fat storage. It would therefore make sense to reverse this undesirable cascade of events by engaging in sensible resistance exercise to rebuild our muscle tissue, raise our metabolic rate, and reduce our fat stores. This is the first lesson that we have learned regarding weight loss with improved body composition and metabolic function that enhances our health and fitness, and enables successful weight management. Sustainable weight loss requires regular resistance exercise to rebuild our muscle tissue and to recharge our metabolism.
Second, let’s consider the negative nutritional aspects of aging that are exacerbated by dieting. As we age, we become less proficient at processing and assimilating proteins that are an essential component of all body tissues and functions.
Consequently, we need to consume more protein as we age to maintain our muscle mass and bone density. Research indicates that adults over age 50 need 25 percent more protein than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) to maintain their muscle mass and 50 percent more protein than the RDA to increase their muscle mass. Of course, most diet plans offer lower protein intake due to overall food restriction, which results in even greater muscle loss and metabolic slow-down. This is one reason why approximately 25 percent of the weight lost from dieting is muscle tissue. It would therefore be logical to choose a diet program that provides a reasonable (rather than a drastic) reduction in food consumption and an increase (rather than a decrease) in protein intake. This is the second lesson that we have learned regarding weight loss with improved body composition and metabolic function that enhances our health and fitness, and enables successful weight management. Sustainable weight loss requires relatively high protein intake to enable muscle rebuilding and metabolic enhancement.
Putting these lessons into practice, our 2017 weight loss study featured sensible resistance training (1 set of 9 resistance machine exercises and 20 minutes of aerobic activity, twice a week), reasonable calorie reduction (1,200 to 1,500 calories per day for women; 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day for men), and increased protein intake (0.6 to 0.7 grams of protein per pound of desired body weight per day).
After six months on this moderate exercise and nutrition program, the participants reduced their body weight by 10 pounds. However, they actually improved their body composition by 18 pounds, as they concurrently added 4 pounds of muscle and lost 14 pounds of fat. These adults and older adults essentially reversed the negative aspects of the aging process (namely, muscle loss and fat gain) for improved health, fitness, and physical appearance. They also experienced significant improvements in their blood pressure and blood sugar readings.
Quincy College researchers conducted a follow-up study to see if these favorable (and unusual) results could be maintained after discontinuing the diet program. The 2018 weight maintenance study incorporated the same exercise program and protein intake, with no calorie restriction. After nine months on the maintenance program, the participants had no significant weight gain and they continued to rebuild muscle and reduce fat for an even better body composition.
It should be noted that throughout both the weight loss program and the weight maintenance program, these participants also experienced significant reductions in their waist circumference and hip circumference. This is the first peer-reviewed, published weight maintenance research study to attain these highly beneficial training effects.
Both of the previous Quincy College studies used commercial protein shakes, which proved to be an excellent means for obtaining the desired daily protein intake.
This January, Quincy College is conducting a similar weight loss research study featuring sensible resistance exercise, reasonable calorie reduction, and increased protein intake. However, instead of using commercial protein shakes, the program participants will be taught to attain their recommended daily protein intake through standard food sources.
The greater community is invited to participate in this new six-month weight loss program offered by Quincy College.
If interested, please attend an upcoming information session on Thursday January 3, 2019. Both sessions will begin at 5:15 PM, and will meet in room 019, Presidents Place, 1250 Hancock Street, Quincy. There is no charge to participate in either information session, but please contact Quincy College for seating purposes at 617-984-1716 if you would like to attend.
Rita La Rosa Loud, B.S., co-directs the Quincy College Health & Fitness Center with Dr. Wayne Westcott, Chair of the Exercise Science Program at Quincy College. To learn more about Quincy College’s Exercise Science program, visit: https://quincycollege.edu/program/exercise-sciencepersonal-training/.