Protein Followed by Exercise is Recipe for Calorie-Burning Success in Some Women - Magaziner Center for Wellness

Protein Followed by Exercise is Recipe for Calorie-Burning Success in Some Women

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Recent research shows that for some women, a high-protein meal followed by 30 minutes of moderate exercise is an effective way of burning calories, especially when compared to exercising on an empty stomach.

“With just a high-protein diet and no exercise, the body heats up to break down the protein but what also happens is it breaks down muscle,” says Ashley Binns, a doctoral student in kinesiology and exercise science who led the study. “You have individuals who are losing weight on a high-protein diet because their metabolism is increasing. The body first burns fat but then it also starts to burn muscle as fuel. We want to see individuals keep their muscle mass with a high-protein diet so that they are more energy efficient.”1

Update: Among severely obese people, vitamin D may make the difference between an active and a more sedentary lifestyle, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

The study found severely obese people who also were vitamin D-deficient walked slower and were less active overall than their counterparts who had healthy vitamin D levels. Poor physical functioning can reduce quality of life and even shorten lifespans.

“People with severe obesity already are eight times more likely to have poor physical function than people with a healthy BMI,” said one of the study’s authors, Tomás Ahern, MB, BCh, BAO, of St. Columcille’s Hospital and St. Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. “Poor vitamin D status contributes to the deterioration of physical function in this population. Among those with severe obesity, 43 percent are at risk of vitamin D deficiency.”

The cross-sectional study examined physical functioning and vitamin D levels in 252 severely obese people. Participants were timed as they walked 500 meters and climbed up and down a single step 50 times. They also provided estimates of their physical activity.

Researchers took a blood sample to measure each participant’s vitamin D levels. For analysis, the study population was divided into three groups based on vitamin D levels.

The study found the group with the highest vitamin D levels had the fastest walking times and highest amount of self-reported physical activity. This group also had the lowest average BMI of the study participants.

“Improving vitamin D status should improve quality of life and may decrease the risk of early death in people with severe obesity,” Ahern said. “This could be a simple matter of spending more time outside, since sun exposure can boost the body’s natural vitamin D production.”2

Recommendations of exercise and eating healthy for longer life expectancy should not surprise anyone. Recently we reported on a study in the medical journal Menopause that moving 6,000 or more steps a day—no matter how—adds up to a healthier life for midlife women. That level of physical activity decreases the risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome (a diabetes precursor and a risk for cardiovascular disease). 3,4

Any movement is good movement

In a study published  in the American Journal of Health Promotion, University of Utah researchers found that even brief episodes of physical activity that exceed a certain level of intensity can have as positive an effect on weight as does the current recommendation of 10 or more minutes at a time. While other studies have shown the value of structured exercise in lowering health risks such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, this study has shown that habitual physical activity—whether it comes from exercising or just activities of daily living—has the power to improve women’s health.

“What we learned is that for preventing weight gain, the intensity of the activity matters more than duration,” says Jessie X. Fan, professor of family and consumer studies at the U. “This new understanding is important because fewer than 5 percent of American adults today achieve the recommended level of physical activity in a week according to the current physical activity guidelines. Knowing that even short bouts of ‘brisk’ activity can add up to a positive effect is an encouraging message for promoting better health.”

The current physical activity guideline for Americans is to get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity, MVPA, a week, which can be accumulated in eight to 10 minute periods. MVPA is defined as greater than 2,020 counts per minute measured with a tool called an accelerometer.

For an average person in an everyday setting without a fancy gadget to gauge the exertion, that would translate roughly to a walking speed of about three mph. But taking the stairs, parking at the far end of the lot, and walking to the store or between errands are choices that can add up and can make a positive health difference, the researchers note.

Ten minutes

The study shows that higher-intensity activity was associated with a lower risk of obesity, whether in “bouts” of fewer or greater than 10 minutes.

This may be especially important news for women, who were on average less physically active than men. However, neither men nor women came close to the weekly 150-minute recommendation with bouts of eight to 10 minutes. However, when adding shorter bouts of higher-intensity activity, men exceeded the recommendation on average, accumulating 246 minutes per week, and women came close, at 144 minutes per week on average. The message is: a little more effort can have an important health payback.

Activity + Fruit + Vegetables = Long Life

Published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers at the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University studied 713 women aged 70 to 79 years who took part in the Women’s Health and Aging Studies. This study was designed to evaluate the causes and course of physical disability in older women living in the community.

Researchers found that the women who were most physically active and had the highest fruit and vegetable consumption were eight times more likely to survive the five-year follow-up period than the women with the lowest rates.

To estimate the amount of fruits and vegetables the women ate, the researchers measured blood levels of carotenoids—beneficial plant pigments that the body turns into antioxidants, such as beta-carotene. The more fruits and vegetables consumed, the higher the levels of carotenoids in the bloodstream.

Study participants’ physical activity was measured through a questionnaire that asked the amount of time the spent doing various levels of physical activity, which was then converted to the number of calories expended.

The women were then followed up to establish the links between healthy eating, exercise and survival rates.

Key research findings included:

More than half of the 713 participants (53%) didn’t do any exercise, 21% were moderately active, and the remaining 26% were in the most active group at the study’s outset.

During the five-year follow up, 11.5% of the participants died. Serum carotenoid levels were 12% higher in the women who survived and total physical activity was more than twice as high.

Women in the most active group at baseline had a 71% lower five-year death rate than the women in the least active group.

Women in the highest carotenoid group at baseline had a 46% lower five-year death rate than the women in the lowest carotenoid group.

When taken together, physical activity levels and total serum carotenoids predicted better survival.5,6

1. University of Arkansas press release
2. Vitamin D Deficiency Contributes to Poor Mobility Among Severely Obese People
3. North American Menopausal Society press release November 21, 2012
4. Veronica Colpani, Karen Oppermann and Poli Mara Spritzer. Association between habitual physical activity and lower cardiovascular risk in premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal women: a population-based study. Menopause, 2012
5. American Geriatrics Society May 30, 2012
6. Mortality in Older Community-Dwelling Women (pages 862–868) Nicklett EJ, Semba RD, et al. Fruit and Vegetable Intake, Physical Activity, and Mortality in Older Community-Dwelling Women (pages 862–868) Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 15 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2012.03924.x