Scientists in Canada believe they have formulated the perfect way for men to gain muscle and lose fat quickly.
The method involves intense exercise and cutting food intake by 40 per cent of normally required levels – a regime that the experts admitted was not sustainable outside of a study.
The team at the McMaster Unviersity, in Ontario, Canada, conducted the study on a small sample of 40 young men who were divided into two groups.
Both groups were asked to follow a low calorie diet and followed a six-day workout routine for a month. However, one group ate more protein than the other.
Scientists found that the group who ate more protein gained around 2.5lbs in muscle, even though they did not eat enough food. They also lost 10.5lbs in fat on average.
The other cohort, meanwhile, did not develop muscle but did not lose it either. They shed around 8lbs on average.
Stuart Phillips, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster and senior investigator on the study admitted that the tests were “gruelling” for participants.
“We wanted to see how quickly we could get them into shape: lose some fat, but still retain their muscle and improve their strength and fitness,” he said.
“Exercise, particularly lifting weights, provides a signal for muscle to be retained even when you're in a big calorie deficit,” said Professor Phillips.
However, researchers stressed that the regime should not be undertaken for a long period of time.
“We controlled their diets, we supervised the exercise, and we really kept these guys under our 'scientific' thumb for the four weeks the participants were in the study,” said Professor Phillips.
The team now how to do a follow-up study on women, and try to develop their findings into a regime which is sustainable.
The study was published in the latest issue of the 'American Journal of Clinical Nutrition'.
While the routine may have given quick fat loss results, previous research has shown that unsustainable fad diets lead to weight gain.
A 2007 study by UCLA published in the 'American Psychologist', the journal of the AmericanPsychological Association, showed that such methods are ineffective in the long run.
"You can initially lose 5 to 10 percent of your weight onany number of diets, but then the weight comes back," said Traci Mann, UCLAassociate professor of psychology and lead author of the study.
"We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more. Sustained weightloss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weightregain was found in the majority. Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people."
The US Eating Disorder Hope organisation also warns against "quick-fix" diets and has advised people to seek medical help if they become obsessed with weight loss and body image, have an intense fear of being "fat", and stressed people should not restrict their calorie intake to an unsafe level.
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