Uncover the science: How Strength Training Mitigates Health Risks Associated with a High-Protein Diet
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Uncover the science: How Strength Training Mitigates Health Risks Associated with a High-Protein Diet

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A recent study on mice has demonstrated that resistance-based strength training can defend against the harm caused by a high-protein diet.

eLife’s Reviewed Preprint, which was issued today, disclosed an interesting discovery concerning the relationship between a high-protein diet, resistance exercise, fat accumulations, and glucose homeostasis, and the evidence to back it up is strong. The editors assert that the results of the study will be useful to nutritionists and others attempting to connect dietary protein, diabetes, and physical activity.

Nourishment from protein is essential for a multitude of bodily functions, and it can have an impact on health and lifespan. Generally, ingestion of protein is perceived as beneficial, particularly when paired with physical activity, as it helps build muscle strength. Nevertheless, for those who lead an inactive lifestyle, too much protein in the diet can raise the odds of heart issues, diabetes, and mortality.

Lead author Michaela Trautman of the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Medicine, School of Medicine and Public Health, US, states that reduced-protein diets and diets with lower levels of certain amino acids are beneficial to animal healthspan and lifespan, and short-term protein restriction has been shown to improve the health of metabolically-unhealthy adults. There is a paradox, however, since those who consume high-protein diets or take protein supplements are generally not overweight and have no increased risk of diabetes, whereas athletes who eat high-protein diets are among the most metabolically healthy.

To determine if exercise could counteract the negative effects of consuming a high-protein diet, the researchers implemented a progressive resistance-based strength training program on mice. For three months, three times a week, the animals would pull a cart with weights in it or without anything in it down a track. One group of mice was given a low-protein diet (7% of calories from protein) and a second group was given a high-protein diet (36% of calories from protein). The team then compared the body composition, weight, and metabolic measurements, such as blood glucose, of the two groups.

The team’s anticipation was fulfilled: mice not exercising and fed a high-protein diet put on more fat than those on the low-protein regimen. Nevertheless, mice engaged in weight lifting saw muscle growth in the forearms and were able to keep off fat, thanks to the high-protein diet. Despite this, the physical activity did not shield them from the effects of the high-protein diet on glucose levels.

The mice that were given high-protein diets obtained greater muscular strength faster than those on low-protein diets. Nevertheless, by the end of the research, both groups of mice had the same maximum capacity of lifting weights, despite the fact that the ones consuming high protein were larger and had larger muscles.

The editors of the study deemed the evidence provided to be sound; however, they highlighted a couple of drawbacks. For example, the use of mice could be a limitation as physiological differences between humans and mice may reduce the generalizability of the conclusions. Furthermore, they suggest that the findings would be amplified if the underlying molecular mechanisms responsible for the outcomes were further investigated.

According to Dudley Lamming, Associate Professor of Medicine (Endocrinology) at the Department of Medicine, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin, many people who deliberately consume a high-protein diet or take protein supplements in order to support their exercise regimen are not metabolically unhealthy, despite evidence that high-protein levels can have detrimental metabolic effects. To address this seeming paradox, their research showed that resistance exercise can protect mice from fat gain caused by a high-protein diet. This implies that sedentary individuals with a high-protein diet or protein supplements who are considered metabolically unhealthy could benefit from either reducing their protein intake or doing more resistance exercise.

In conclusion, strength training is beneficial for active people. However, those who are not active and consume an excessive amount of protein may increase their chances of suffering from heart problems, diabetes, and death.

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Research provided by eLife. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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