DuPont: Plant-based protein contributes to healthy weight loss and maintenance

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14 Jun 2018 --- The consumption of foods high in soy protein as part of a healthy diet are valuable choices for the support of lean mass, loss of weight and weight management, a study has found. The results of the research, which was conducted at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus with support from DuPont Nutrition & Health, encourages the industry to formulate weight loss products with lean, high-quality sources of protein, such as soy and can support people seeking to lose weight healthfully on a plant-based diet.

“A major take-home message from this study is that people following a plant-inclusive or plant-based high protein diet can be successful in reducing body weight. This study was more about long-term wellness associated with weight reduction. A major struggle for dieters is maintaining their new weight and all the health benefits that accompany weight loss over time,” says James O. Hill, Ph.D., the study’s senior author.

“Findings from this latest study may be especially relevant for those choose to follow dietary advice to increase consumption of plant sources. Consuming a plant inclusive diet is becoming more and more mainstream. The most recent 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) include recommendations with a focus on plant-sources,” Michelle Braun, Ph.D., Global Protein Scientific Affairs Lead with DuPont Nutrition & Health tells NutritionInsight.

“As consumers shift more toward a plant-inclusive diet for support of health, it is important to remember the regular use of legumes and soy products will ensure an adequate high-quality protein intake for the flexitarian or vegetarian.”

The ability to lose weight and keep it off was the central research aim of the health and wellness-focused collaborative study, as other studies have previously demonstrated the success of high protein diets for weight loss. The research, published in the Obesity Science & Practice journal, evaluates the effectiveness of incorporating soy protein-based foods into higher protein energy-restricted diets for weight loss, compared to other sources of protein, in adults who are overweight or obese. 

This study examined the effectiveness of a four-month energy-restricted, higher protein weight loss intervention followed by an additional eight-month weight maintenance phase. 

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People following a plant-inclusive or plant-based high protein
diet can be successful in reducing body weight.

“Unlike trials designed to test the superiority of a treatment compared to a placebo control group, non-inferiority trials are designed to test the comparative effectiveness of a new intervention or treatment and established intervention or treatment options,” explains Braun.

The results showed that both groups who were prescribed a high protein, energy-restricted diet lost similar and significant amounts of body weight. Further, the majority of the weight lost was fat mass. Some participants regained weight during the self-directed, eight-month follow-up period, but there were no significant differences between the dietary treatment groups for any of the outcome measures throughout the 12-month trial. 

Both groups lost an average of three to four percent body fat or over 6kg of total fat loss during higher protein energy-restricted weight loss phase. The participants maintained 4kg of fat loss through the end of the year-long intervention.

The researchers remarked that the magnitude of the weight-loss and weight-maintenance results from both groups was impressive.

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The researchers note that the findings can have real-life implications for the weight-loss and maintenance market.

“The findings of this study support the formulation of products for weight loss and weight maintenance with the lean, high-quality source of protein, soy,” says Braun.

“Whether formulated and positioned as a meal replacement, snack or center of plate food, this study demonstrates the efficacy of soy-containing products. The foods included in the trial, developed by Food Scientists at DuPont Nutrition & Health, contained 20g of lean, high-quality soy protein per serving, and were delivered in the form of a dry-blended beverage, a lean soy sausage (meat-free) patty and a nutrition bar.”

“Inclusion of these products in a high protein, low-fat diet led to notable weight and fat loss. Both groups lost an average of 3-4 percent of body fat during higher protein energy-restricted weight loss phase. This equals over 6kg fat loss, on average, across both groups, at end of weight loss phase and 4kg fat loss at end of intervention.”

NutritionInsight has previously reported on the role that protein plays in weight loss and maintenance, such as the importance of timing protein supplements for weight loss goals. 

By Laxmi Haigh

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