Lean beef: An effective weight loss strategy

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Lean beef: An effective weight loss strategy

Beef has gotten a bad rap coming under fire in recent years - too high in fat, cholesterol, bad for the environment and so on.  But yet many individuals really enjoy the robust flavor of lean beef – in fact, red meat is a major contributor to overall protein intake and represents 58% of all meat consumed in the U.S.

In addition, diets high in protein are becoming more and more popular as people seek out new strategies for weight loss.  Lean cuts of beef easily meet this requirement.  They’re an excellent source of protein and they create a feeling of satiety or feeling satisfied after eating. Studies have shown beef has more staying power than carbohydrates and fat, helping to curb hunger and the desire to eat.  More and more studies are proving that consuming lean beef can be a useful dietary choice when attempting weight loss.

Study looks at lean beef’s role in weight loss

A new study published in Obesity Science and Practice finds lean beef is not only effective for weight loss but also maintains all-important muscle mass and keeps your heart healthy.  This study, conducted at the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center with a research grant from the beef checkoff, adds to other numerous studies demonstrating how lean beef can be a valuable part of a healthy weight loss diet.

High-protein diets for weight loss have been all the rage for some time now.  And they do indeed work for many on achieving a healthier body weight.  But some high-protein diets advise against consuming red meat as a protein source.  The widespread interest in high-protein diets has led research to determine which protein source or type - animal versus vegetable – has more of an influence on weight loss and heart health outcomes.

This latest study wanted to compare different high-quality protein sources to better understand how effective each were in promoting weight loss and maintenance.  The study author’s goal was to compare lean beef to other protein sources in not only weight loss and maintenance but also its impact on cardiovascular health.

The 16-week study dubbed “The Beef WISE Study” recruited 120 overweight or obese adults (99 female, 21 male) in a comprehensive weight management program called State of Slim.  This program uses and emphasizes behavioral strategies guiding participants to make smart, healthful changes in their diet and physical activity promoting their health and wellness. 

Study participants were separated into two groups, both of which consumed a higher-protein diet (higher protein intake ranged from 40-50% of each participant’s daily total calories).  One group consumed four or more servings of lean beef each week and the other group was not allowed to eat red meat. 

Results from the study showed that while participants in both groups lost equal amounts of body weight and fat mass, the key finding was that 90 to 95% of the weight lost came from fat mass and not muscle mass.  In other words, lean beef does not need to be reduced or restricted in a higher-protein diet as it is just as effective as other protein sources in promoting healthy weight loss while preserving muscle. 

Lean beef’s effect on heart health

Each of the individuals in both study groups also participated in regular moderate-intensity exercise.  The group that was allowed to eat lean beef showed improvements in heart health from blood tests of their total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.  This demonstrates lean beef can also be part of a heart healthy diet.

How to get lean with protein

Weight loss can be a daunting undertaking for many.  Maintaining weight loss is also challenging particularly as we age.  A growing body of evidence is showing nutrients in lean beef can be a vital part of the journey in reaching a healthier body weight, building and maintaining muscle mass, and satisfying hunger while fueling a healthy and active lifestyle. 

Here are a few suggestions on how to incorporate lean beef several times a week as part of a balanced diet:

·      Add lean beef to a salad

·      Enjoy an open-faced, lean roast beef sandwich for a high-protein lunch

·      Add lean ground beef to chili, soups, or stew to boost the protein power

·      Toss sliced lean steak to a pre-packaged veggie stir-fry for more protein sizzle

·      Get more protein in your meal by adding lean beef to a vegetable kabob

·      Pack beef jerky for a high-protein treat when on the go