Study Seeks Participants
Researchers will compare high- and low-protein diets
Worried about putting on weight over the winter
holidays? You can start taking it off in January by participating
in a nutritional weight-loss study being headed by two U
of G graduate students.
Joy Renders and Rachel Sherfey, master's students in the
Department of Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences, are
looking for 80 people to take part in a study comparing
the results of high- and low-protein diets in combination
with or without exercise. Participants should be 20 to 40
pounds overweight and will be analysed for weight loss,
fitness and body composition.
"There are a number of high-protein diets on the market
that promote weight loss," says Renders, who is also
a fitness consultant and personal trainer. "These diets
usually suggest doubling the recommended nutrient intake
of protein, and most studies have shown that people on these
diets lose weight, but they have never looked at what role
exercise plays and whether the participants are gaining
Renders and Sherfey's study will follow up on earlier research
by Prof. Kelly Meckling-Gill, who is also the faculty adviser
on this project. Meckling-Gill's earlier study, which she
also participated in, examined the effects of low-carbohydrate
diets. Her research found that even people who didn't lose
weight (she lost 30 pounds) showed overall health improvement,
including lower serum cholesterol and blood pressure.
"Prof. Meckling-Gill's study didn't look at the role
exercise might have played in that process, which is what
we hope to determine," Sherfey says. Adds Meckling-Gill:
"There aren't many studies out there that look at physical
activity in combination with diet in controlled trials.
This will give the students excellent research experience
in the two most important lifestyle factors that relate
to chronic disease elements: diet and physical activity.
It's an ambitious project."
Study participants will be randomly assigned to one of
four groups: a high-protein diet in combination with exercise,
a high-protein diet without exercise, a low-protein diet
with exercise and a low-protein diet without exercise. The
program will run for 12 weeks and will include free weekly
nutritional counselling and a free 12-week membership to
the Athletics Centre. Participants will also receive food
lists of favourable and unfavourable high-protein food choices
and guidelines that outline how much protein and how many
calories should be consumed each day. Participants will
be monitored for body composition, weight loss, metabolic
rates and blood pressure. At the end of the study, a summary
of individual and pooled results of the trial will be made
"We look at this as helping people make lifestyle
changes," says Renders. "The hope is that once
people finish this study, they will have survived that hard
first-three-months phase of an exercise and nutrition program
and stick with it."
To participate in the study or to obtain more information,
call Renders and Sherfey at 829-6847.