A recent study displays the benefits of following this unique dietary protocol may help older adults avoid muscle loss and reduce fat gain while consuming lean red meat.
Is there a dietary approach that helps older adults avoid muscle loss while increasing fat loss? As we age, our bodies naturally begin to lose some muscle mass (known as Sarcopenia).
As a result, our ability to walk, avoid falls and injuries decrease significantly, leading to hospitalizations or the need for in-home care. Adults who fall into this population also tend to accumulate more fat mass during this time. But, new research is showing there may be a way to combat this.
This study examined the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet on body composition in obese adults over 65. Diet quality and protein intake, in particular, are vital for maintaining body composition and muscle mass.
The DASH dietary pattern is a high-quality therapeutic diet known to improve various diverse and at-risk populations.
The DASH diet’s primary protein recommendations are poultry and fish while decreasing red meats throughout the diet. However, this study included the use of lean red meat as their primary source of protein.
Under controlled feeding conditions, 15 males and 21 females consumed 1800 kcal/day for 12 weeks. Every day, 126g of fresh, lean red meat was equally portioned throughout three meals. Subjects were to avoid consuming foods/beverages outside the provided breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Also, body composition and muscle strength measures were obtained at weeks 0, 3, 6, 9, and 12.
By following a DASH-like diet, participants significantly changed their body composition: Body Weight Decreased by an Average of 5.7 kg; BMI Measurements Decreased by an Average of 1.9 kg/mg.
; Waist Measurements Decreased by an Average of 4.7 cm; Hip Measurements Decreased by an Average of 4 cm; Body Fat Percentage Decreased by an Average of 2.5%; Abdominal Fat Mass Decreased by an Average of 4.2 kg; Fat-Free Mass Decreased by an Average of 1.5 kilograms; Lean Body Mass Decreased by an Average of 2 kilograms; Total Body Water Decreased by an Average of 1 kg
In all participants, the magnitude of fat loss at the end of 12 weeks was 5x higher than muscle mass loss. But, body composition wasn’t the only change. Study participants observed a decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure! Some participants were even able to decrease or eliminate their risk of hypertension throughout the study.
These findings suggest that following a DASH-like diet can help preserve muscle strength while reducing fat mass in obese older adults.
However, this study did have some limitations. The lack of a comparison group makes it difficult to evaluate this DASH-like diet to either the DASH diet or any different dietary pattern. Moreover, as all of the participants in this study were sedentary and obese, physical activities beyond daily living activities were not monitored.
While these findings are promising, it is always important to consult with your doctor and dietician before switching to a new diet.
Perry, C. A., Van Guilder, G. P., Kauffman, A., & Hossain, M. (2020). A Calorie-Restricted DASH Diet Reduces Body Fat and Maintains Muscle Strength in Obese Older Adults. Nutrients, 12(1), 102.