Tip: Whole Foods vs. Protein Powders | T Nation

Article by Chris Shugart at T-Nation.com
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Tip: Whole Foods vs. Protein Powders
Some people like to say that protein supplements are inferior to whole-food protein sources. But what does science say? Check this out.
by Chris Shugart | 03/19/17

What We Know About Higher-Protein Diets
Based on a bevy of studies we’ve covered previously on T Nation, here’s what we know:

A fat-loss diet that’s higher in protein leads to more fat loss and more muscle preservation than a diet lower in protein… even if overall calories are the same in both diet plans.
A diet higher in protein leads to more muscle gain than a diet lower in protein… again, even if calories are kept the same.
A diet higher in protein leads to less belly fat than a lower-protein plan. You guessed it… even if calories are the same in both diets.
Protein is the most satiating (filling) of the three macronutrients. So a high protein fat-loss plan will make you less crazy than a low-protein diet plan.
It’s very difficult for your body to convert protein into body fat, even at very high amounts. If a larger chunk of your diet is made up of protein, you’ll be able to eat more and still lose fat.
Increasing protein intake above the usual recommended levels enhances protein synthesis, lean body mass, postprandial thermogenesis, and cardiometabolic health.
All very cool. But is there a difference between whole-food protein sources and protein powders? Science has taken a look.

The Study
Researcher Paul Arciero and his team did a previous study where they put two groups of people on a diet plan. Both groups consumed the same number of calories and did the same workouts, but one group ate 3 larger meals per day and one group had 6 smaller meals per day (half of those meals consisting of protein powder). In short, the frequent eaters had better improvements in body composition – more muscle and less fat – than the “three square meals a day” group.

But the researchers wanted to take this a step further. How would 6 solid meals per day compare to 3 solid meals and 3 protein shakes?

They put two groups of chubby but otherwise healthy people on a relatively high protein diet, at least “high” for regular folks: 1.4 g/kg body weight. Both groups practiced “protein pacing” for 16 weeks, meaning they both had 5-6 feedings per day. One group consumed half their meals in the form of whey protein. Both groups did the same workouts (weights and cardio mostly).

The Result
Both groups improved their body compositions and their physical performance. The group that had 3 meals from protein powder improved just as much as the whole-food eaters. In short, a whey protein supplement works just as well as solid food protein sources.

So that answers the question: “Is protein powder as good as whole food when it comes to improving body composition and performance?” Yes.

Since most bodybuilders and lifters eat multiple meals per day, it’s fast and convenient to supplement some of those feedings with protein shakes. And now we know it’s at least as good as whole foods for fat loss or muscle gain. So tell those pudgy dieticians to get off your back.

Now, the researchers chose whey protein because whey has been shown to be superior than soy protein, pea protein and other types. But what about a high quality micellar casein or a blend of whey and casein?

Micellar casein is more slowly digested than whey and has a distinct advantage due to its ability to amplify nitrogen retention. (Increased nitrogen retention is essential for muscle performance.) In other words, casein is generally a better muscle builder and a better fat burner than plain ol’ whey. Intact micelles equate to a gradual release of amino acids and higher concentrations of leucine in the bloodstream. Plus, micellar casein is anticatabolic.

The scientists here didn’t study the effects of micellar casein or a casein/whey blend, but we can guess that if it had been used, the protein supplementing group may have pulled ahead of the whole-food only group.

Nutrients. Paul J. Arciero, et al. Protein-Pacing from Food or Supplementation Improves Physical Performance in Overweight Men and Women: The PRISE 2 Study, May 2016

Evidence-based Weight-Loss Tips

This information comes from Authority Nutrition’s blog article “26 Weight Loss Tips That Are Actually Evidence-Based” by Kris Gunnars, BS. Read the full article here.

Weight Loss Tips That Are Actually Evidence-Based

The weight loss “industry” is full of myths.

People are being advised to do all sorts of crazy things, most of which have no evidence behind them.

Over the years, however, scientists have found a number of strategies that seem to be effective.

Here are some weight loss tips that are actually evidence-based.

  • Drink Water, Especially Before Meals

It is often claimed that drinking water can help with weight loss, and this is true.

Drinking water can boost metabolism by 24-30% over a period of 1-1.5 hours, helping you burn off a few more calories.

One study showed that drinking a half liter (17 oz) of water about a half an hour before meals helped dieters eat fewer calories and lose 44% more weight.

  •  Drink Coffee (Preferably Black)

Coffee has been unfairly demonized. Quality coffee is loaded with antioxidants, and can have numerous health benefits.

Studies show that the caffeine in coffee can boost metabolism by 3-11%, and increase fat burning by up to 10-29%

Just make sure NOT to add a bunch of sugar or other high-calorie ingredients to it. That will completely negate any benefit you get from the coffee.

  • Drink Green Tea

Like coffee, green tea also has many benefits, one of them being weight loss.

Green tea contains small amounts of caffeine, but it is also loaded with powerful antioxidants called catechins, which are also believed to work synergistically with the caffeine to enhance fat burning.

Although the evidence is mixed, there are many studies showing that green tea (either as a beverage or a green tea extract supplement) can help you lose weight.

  • Cook With Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is very healthy. It is high in special fats called medium chain triglycerides, which are metabolized differently than other fats.

These fats have been shown to boost metabolism by 120 calories per day, and also reduce your appetite so that you eat up to 256 fewer calories per day).

Keep in mind that this is not about adding coconut oil on top of what you’re already eating, it is about replacing some of your current cooking fats with coconut oil.

  • Cut Back on Added Sugar

Added sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet, and most people are eating way too much of it.

Studies show that sugar (and high fructose corn syrup) consumption is strongly associated with the risk of obesity, as well as diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and others.

If you want to lose weight, you should be cutting back on added sugars. Just make sure to read labels, because even so-called health foods can be loaded with sugar.

  • Eat Fewer Refined Carbs

Refined carbohydrates are usually sugar, or grains that have been stripped of their fibrous, nutritious parts (includes white bread and pasta).

Studies show that refined carbs can spike blood sugar rapidly, leading to hunger, cravings and increased food intake a few hours later. Eating refined carbs is strongly linked to obesity.

If you’re going to eat carbs, make sure to eat them with their natural fiber.

  • Use Smaller Plates

Using smaller plates has been shown to help people automatically eat fewer calories in some studies. Weird trick, but it seems to work.

  • Exercise Portion Control or Count Calories

Portion control (eating less) or counting calories can be very useful, for obvious reasons.

There are also studies showing that keeping a food diary and writing down what you eat, or taking pictures of all your meals, can help you lose weight.

Anything that increases your awareness of what you are eating is likely to be useful.

  • Keep Healthy Food Around in Case You Get Hungry

Keeping healthy food close by can help prevent you from eating something unhealthy if you become excessively hungry.

A few snacks that are easily portable and simple to prepare include whole fruits, a handful of nuts, baby carrots, yogurt and a hard-boiled egg (or two).

  • Brush Your Teeth After Dinner

Although I’m not aware of any studies on this, many people recommend brushing your teeth and/or flossing right after dinner. Then you won’t be as tempted to have a late-night snack.

  • Do Aerobic Exercise

Doing aerobic exercise (cardio) is an excellent way to burn calories and improve your physical and mental health.

It appears to be particularly effective to lose belly fat, the unhealthy fat that tends to build up around your organs and cause metabolic disease.

  • Lift Weights

One of the worst side effects of dieting, is that it tends to cause muscle loss and metabolic slowdown, often referred to as starvation mode.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to do some sort of resistance exercise, like lifting weights. Studies show that weight lifting can help keep your metabolism high, and prevent you from losing precious muscle mass.

Of course, it’s not just important to lose fat. You also want to make sure that what is beneath looks good. Doing some sort of resistance exercise is critical for that.

  • Eat More Fiber

Fiber is often recommended for the purpose of weight loss. Although the evidence is mixed, some studies show that fiber (especially viscous fiber) can increase satiety and help you control your weight over the long term.

  • Eat More Vegetables and Fruits

Vegetables and fruits have several properties that make them effective for weight loss.

They contain few calories, but a lot of fiber. They are also rich in water, which gives them a low energy density. They also take a while to chew, and are very filling.

Studies show that people who eat vegetables and fruits tend to weigh less. These foods are also super healthy and nutritious, so eating them is important for all sorts of reasons.

  • Chew More Slowly

It can take a while for the brain to “register” that you’ve had enough to eat. Some studies show that chewing more slowly can help you eat fewer calories and increase the production of hormones linked to weight loss.

  • Get More Sleep

Sleep is highly underrated, but it may be just as important as eating healthy and exercising.

Studies show that poor sleep is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity, being linked to an 89% increased risk of obesity in children, and 55% in adults.

  • Beat Your Food Addiction

A recent 2014 study of 196,211 individuals found that 19.9% of people fulfill the criteria for food addiction.

If you suffer from overpowering cravings and can’t seem to get your eating under control no matter how hard you try, then you may be a food addict.

In this case, get help. Trying to lose weight without dealing with this problem first is next to impossible.

  • Eat More Protein

Protein is the single most important nutrient when it comes to losing weight.

Eating a high protein diet has been shown to boost metabolism by 80 to 100 calories per day, while helping you feel so satiated that you eat up to 441 fewer calories per day.

One study also showed that protein at 25% of calories reduced obsessive thoughts about food by 60%, while cutting the desire for late night snacking in half.

This is the single most important tip in the article.

Simply adding protein to your diet (without restricting anything) is one of the easiest, most effective and most delicious ways to lose weight.

  • Supplement With Whey Protein

If you struggle to get enough protein in your diet, taking a supplement can help.

One study showed that replacing part of your calories with whey protein can cause weight loss of about 8 pounds, while increasing lean muscle mass.

Check out our Herbalife product page for great protein-powered ideas! 

  • Don’t Drink Calories, Including Sugary Soda and Fruit Juices

Sugar is bad, but sugar in liquid form is even worse . Studies show that liquid sugar calories may be the single most fattening aspect of the modern diet.

For example, one study showed that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to a 60% increased risk of obesity in children, for each daily serving.

Keep in mind that this applies to fruit juice as well, which contains a similar amount of sugar as a soft drink like cola. Eat whole fruit, but use fruit juice with caution (or avoid it altogether).

  • Eat Whole, Single Ingredient Foods (Real Food)

If you want to be a leaner, healthier person, then one of the best things you can do for yourself is to eat whole, single ingredient foods.

These foods are naturally filling, and it’s very difficult to gain weight if the majority of your diet is based around them.

Keep in mind that real food doesn’t need a long list of ingredients, because real food IS the ingredient.

  • Don’t “Diet”, Eat Healthy Instead

One of the biggest problems with “diets,” is that they almost never work in the long term.

If anything, people who “diet” tend to gain more weight over time, and studies show that dieting is a consistent predictor of future weight gain.

Instead of going on a diet, make it your goal to become a healthier, happier and fitter person. Focus on nourishing your body, instead of depriving it.

Weight loss should follow as a natural side effect.

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