“You are what you eat” is a long-used mantra that helps people eat less unhealthy food. Weight loss is often the goal when it comes to diet plans, and these often consist of mostly fruits and vegetables while keeping meat content low. However, a new study finds that lean pork fits into a balanced diet and can even promote weight loss and healthy aging.
For the longest time, pork-based products were thought to consist of high amounts of fat. However, a study conducted by Duke University found that high-risk obese women following weight loss diets, which included lean pork, had more weight loss and improved physical function. The participants were also more likely to stick to the six-month weight loss program as well.
The study in question sought to test the impact of two different calorie-restricted diets. A total of 80 obese women aged 45 and older took part in the study. Each diet was composed of the average daily amount of protein recommended or higher. This included 30 grams of lean pork—considered a high-quality major protein source.
Both groups experienced significant weight loss. Approximately six percent of their total body weight over six months.
“The health benefits of weight loss for those who are obese are clear, but we all know weight loss is not easy. While more research is needed to understand the specific benefits of protein in a weight-loss diet, this research suggests a calorie-restricted diet including lean, nutrient-rich pork, could be a very viable option for reducing obesity and improving future health and function,” said lead study author Connie Bales, professor of medicine at Duke University.
One aspect of the study was the preservation of functional ability. It is especially important for older adults who diet to maintain muscle mass along with losing fat. Finding the right balance will help maintain independence and the capability to perform day to day tasks.
Participants of this study were found to lose small amounts of muscle, but experienced significant improvements in functional capacity, according to researchers.
“The women in this study enjoyed eating pork to meet their protein goals. Including foods people enjoy could go a long way in helping them stick to their weight-loss plan,” said Dr. Bales.