The NFL’s top general manager, Joe Banner, has said that he believes that cutting out processed food and drinking plenty of water and exercising at a low intensity are the key to building muscle again after years of weight loss.
But as we get ready to kick off a new NFL season, a new study shows that not only do many athletes who lose weight regain their muscles, they also have significantly better athletic performance.
“This is really the first time we’ve been able to see the benefits of these low-calorie diets and the effects they have on athletic performance,” Dr. Robert Schatz, a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, told Fox News.
“And there is a pretty strong correlation with improvements in strength and conditioning and the ability to perform at the highest levels of sport.”
The study, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, looked at the relationship between caloric intake and muscle performance, and found that weight-loss diets were not associated with increased performance.
The authors of the study, Dr. Jeffrey L. Schwartz, a professor of exercise science and director of the Obesity Research Institute at the Johns Hopkins University, and Dr. David A. Zajac, a medical director of a fitness and athletic medicine clinic at The Sports Medicine Clinic, found that those who followed a low-carbohydrate, low-fat diet lost more muscle than those who stayed on a regular diet.
“The difference in the muscle loss was quite substantial,” Schwartz said.
“The effect of weight-reduced dieting on muscular function in humans is unclear, but the most likely explanation is that the caloric reduction caused by these low carb diets may have beneficial effects on muscle and fat metabolism.”
Schatz and his colleagues studied 6,937 college football players who participated in the NFL’s 2009-2010 season.
The researchers found that players who reduced their calories and ate less were significantly better at sprinting and jumping, running and catching footballs, and playing sports like basketball, soccer, soccer and golf.
The study was not meant to prove a new treatment for players who are on the Atkins diet, which is low in carbs, but it suggests that low-protein diets, such as those used by the NBA and NHL, can be helpful to reduce muscle loss and strength gains.
“If you are in a weight-controlled group, you need to understand the relationship of carbohydrate and protein consumption,” Schatz said.
“We found that people on low carb and low fat diets who were consuming the same amount of carbohydrate, but with less protein, lost more than those on a high-carb diet.”
Schultz and his team believe that it is not just athletes who are able to build muscle again with these low calorie diets, but also those who suffer from other health problems, including arthritis and diabetes.
“Our study found that a low protein diet reduced inflammation, and that when combined with a low carbohydrate diet, the combined diet significantly improved markers of inflammation, such in blood pressure, heart disease risk factors and diabetes,” Schwartz told Fox.
The NFL is one of the few sports leagues in the world that has not yet launched a low calorie diet program, but Schatz thinks it is something that the league could start soon.
“It is an interesting finding, because it is the first study to look at how different diets affect muscle performance,” he said.
The research team will be conducting additional studies to understand whether or not the low-carbs can be effective in treating athletes with various diseases, including some types of cancer.
“There are some things that can be done with low carb diet, and we’re interested in learning more about that,” Schwartz noted.
“I would love to find out if low carb could be a viable treatment for cancer, but that’s a lot of work to do.
I think the potential is there, and it’s something that we should really pay attention to.”