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Two Years of Eating “Too Much Protein” 3

Being a two-year study subject has its perks. Things like free blood work, free body composition analysis via the Bod Pod & DEXA, and free protein supplements are just a few of those perks! Big thanks to Dr. Jose Antonio, Co-Founder and CEO of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), for giving me an opportunity to take part in his one-year study along with a one year follow-up examining the effects of high-protein diets on subjects with previous strength-training experience.

If you know anything about conducting research then you would know it is VERY hard to find subjects to agree to take part in a study for one full year. It’s even harder to find subjects that will agree to track all of their training to account for adequate volume, log all calories consumed for one year (minimum of 4 days logged per week), show up for lab testing consistently, and get their blood work completed in a timely fashion after lab visits! I guess I am one of the few but I blame it on being meticulous with a slightly obsessive compulsive behavior!

The research team at NOVA Southeastern University in Davie, FL has conducted a series of studies (here, here, and here) investigating high-protein diets on resistance-trained men to put to rest the circulating myth that too much protein has harmful effects on the kidneys. Bodybuilders and common “bros” have known for decades that eating more protein than what is recommended is the key to making and sustaining your gains in the gym.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is a measly 0.8-1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. That amount may be enough for someone who does not regularly participate in vigorous exercise but is far from sufficient for the more active individual or athlete participating in an intense training program. The ISSN position stand on protein intakes, along with more recent data from Helms et al., suggest a range of 1.4 grams to 3.1 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day. This range helps to promote recovery, promote training tolerance, and maintain lean tissue during periods of caloric restriction (the lower the calories, the higher the recommended amount of protein).

For the full details of the study design, click the link to the study HERE. Here are the cliff notes of the actual study for the TL;DR crowd:

Methods summarized

  • 14 Resistance-Trained men in a randomized crossover trial assigned to one of two groups: normal protein (minimum of 1.4g-2.0g/kg/d) or high protein (minimum of 3g/kg/d)
  • Baseline measures were taken on the first lab visit then four additional visits spread throughout the year
  • Group assignment was randomized averaging 6 months total on normal protein or high protein
  • Body comp was analyzed via Bod Pod under the same conditions
  • Dietary reports were self-reported a minimum of 3 days per week (I’m aware there is a large margin of error here BUT I am very skilled with My Fitness Pal and measuring/weighing food)
  • Training logs were self-reported
  • Blood lipid and comprehensive metabolic panel were performed fasted on 5 separate occasions after each lab visit

A lot of people (see armchair scientists) had some critiques of their own about the research published from Dr. Antonio’s lab because it had a small sample size of 14 subjects including myself. I also noticed comments stating that a supplement company funded the study because Dymatize is a sponsor of the ISSN and provided protein powder for the study subjects (I was also provided other brands of my choosing). Again, it is extremely pressing for researchers to find subjects that meet the criteria of the study and have them commit a full year of their life to it. Second, Dr. Antonio is the lead author because he is the Associate Professor for the College of Health and Human Performance at NOVA.

My results

Below is a table I put together of my personal results from the one-year study including baseline body composition measurements along with the subsequent lab visits:

High-Protein Study

DatePercentage Body FatFat MassFat-Free Mass
4/25/1517.3%31.3150.2
6/18/1515.2%27.4152.5
8/20/1516.9%30.37149.4
12/11/1516.1%28.37147.9
4/22/1611.9%20.27149.6
Changes in body composition measured via Bod Pod from baseline to finish. Changes will reflect intentional caloric intake modification throughout the study as I was rotated from "normal protein group" to "high-protein group" throughout the year.

Notes worth mentioning

  • My heaviest bodyweight during the study was approx 180 lbs. My lightest was approx 168 lbs. I’m 6’0″ tall with a more athletic build to help you get an idea of what that looks like (sorry no skin pics).
  • I lost 5.4% body fat within one-year with largest loss (4.2%) coming from December 2015 to April 2016. Interestingly, I also gained 1.6 lbs of lean body mass during the same period. Yes, I lost fat and gained muscle. I suspect this is due to a change in training volume.
  • A total of 11 lbs of fat lost over the entire year with only a 0.6 lb loss of lean body mass
  • Overall, I gained 0.64 lbs of lean body mass by the end of the study including gains and losses of lean body mass and fat mass. This is likely due to intentional manipulation of caloric intake during dieting phases and dieting breaks.
  • Other supplements to take into consideration that I used regularly prior to, during, and after the study are a basic multivitamin like Centrum, peri-workouts such as Pre-Jym and/or Post-Jym, Vitamin D3, fish oil, a greens supplement, and HMB-FA (maybe that gave me the gainz like it did in this study although it wasn’t 8kg LOL).
  • My blood work remained impeccable throughout the year. My kidneys didn’t dissolve. Currently, I am involved in a follow-up investigation on high-protein diets with the same researchers which includes Bod Pod & DEXA body comp analysis. My blood work as of May 12, 2017 is still immaculate. This also means I have been involved with this research for two years now.

How did these series of studies come about?

Here is a brief interview I did with Dr. Jose Antonio answering a few questions about the high-protein diet studies:

 

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3 thoughts on “Two Years of Eating “Too Much Protein”

  1. Reply Lucian Nicolescu Dec 28,2017 2:02 AM

    Great study, congratulations and thanks for sharing!
    If I may ask, was there a normal, high or low amount of carbs and fat consumed daily beside the 3 protein g/kg/d?

    • Reply dmartinfitness Dec 28,2017 7:51 AM

      Thanks Lucian! I modified calorie intake and carb intake based upon which group I was switched into. For example, if I were to switch to the high protein group of ~1.5g/lb, then I lowered carbs in relation to my calorie goal. Fat intake I kept within the same ranges depending on the day. Throughout most of the study I dieted with the intention of getting leaner via a caloric deficit (approx 2300-2400 calories) with interspersed diet breaks throughout the year. Hopefully this answers your question!

  2. Reply Lucian Nicolescu Dec 28,2017 12:29 PM

    Sure it does! Thank you for your time and good luck!

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