You don't need an orange spray tan and banana hammock to look like a bodybuilder. You just have to eat like one. For ages, bodybuilders have whipped themselves into competition shape with high-protein diets that have enabled them to get lean while maintaining muscle. Now science has proven them right.
According to a new study published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal, doubling the USDA's recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein—50 grams for a healthy guy on a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet—coupled with regular exercise can help you retain muscle during a weight-loss program. This challenges the long-standing notion that significant muscle loss is inevitable when it comes to weight loss from diet and exercise. What's more, the study showed that extra protein intake promoted fat loss. Before you start piling your plate with extra servings of steak and salmon, read this: Researchers also tested the effects of tripling the RDA of protein and found no added benefits.
In a nutshell, this study confirmed what bodybuilders have known for years—if you want to lose fat while keeping your muscle, double the amount of protein you eat a day. More protein in your diet (to a point) means less fat on your body. And while Gerald Weissmann, M.D., editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, still stresses the importance of a well-balanced diet for weight maintenance, upping your protein intake when dieting could be useful "in the short term."