Tweak your diet like this and you’ll lose more abdominal/visceral fat (belly fat) and build more muscle, even if you keep calories the same.
Scientist Paul Arciero and his team are big fans of “protein pacing” – eating protein 5-6 times per day, spreading the feedings out. Basically, it’s what most bodybuilders have been doing for decades: eating 5-6 meals a day, all containing whole-food protein or protein supplements.
These researchers also like “multi-dimensional exercise regimens.” That just means a little of everything: weights, intervals, stretching, and a bit of endurance work. The team has published several studies supporting both methods, but a more recent one looked into protein intake and how it affects belly fat and training results.
Arciero recruited 50 people (30 women, 20 men) who were already physically fit. All of them were put on a multi-dimensional exercise program, and all of them practiced protein pacing. All consumed the same amount of calories for the 12-week study.
The only difference was protein intake. Half the group consumed 2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day. The other half consumed 1 gram per kilogram of bodyweight.
After 12 weeks, both groups were leaner, stronger, and had built muscle. But the group that got more protein had lost more abdominal and visceral fat, built more muscle, and could even bench and leg press more. Weirdly, they even got better results from their flexibility training.
That’s what scientists call “enhanced training-induced adaptations.” Meatheads just call it “more gains, bro!”
- Even if calories are kept the same, when you eat more protein you get better results from your training, and, all else being equal, you lose more belly fat.
- In these studies, even though the “high” protein group consumed less than a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, researchers didn’t rule out the idea that more would’ve led to even better results. The old “eat a gram per pound of bodyweight” is a pretty good place to start, as long as you’re not morbidly obese, of course.
- If eating 5-6 meals per day seems daunting and inconvenient, just use a quality protein powder like Metabolic Drive between solid meals. In another extensive study, this same group of researchers concluded that protein supplements and whole food protein sources were equally effective.
- Arciero PJ et al. Timed-daily ingestion of whey protein and exercise training reduces visceral adipose tissue mass and improves insulin resistance: the PRISE study. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2014 Jul 1;117(1):1-10. PubMed.
- Ives SJ et al. Multi-modal exercise training and protein-pacing enhances physical performance adaptations independent of growth hormone and BDNF but may be dependent on IGF-1 in exercise-trained men. Growth Horm IGF Res. 2017 Feb;32:60-70. PubMed.
- Arciero PJ et al. Protein-Pacing from Food or Supplementation Improves Physical Performance in Overweight Men and Women: The PRISE 2 Study. Nutrients. 2016 May 11;8(5):288. PubMed.