Linda F. Benedict, Losso, Jack N.
Fatemeh Malekian, Sebhatu Gebrelul, Kasundra Cyrus, De’Shoin Friendship, Janana Snowden, Betty Kennedy and Jack Losso
Obesity is widely recognized as one of the most critical health threats to families and children across the country. The direct medical costs and losses of worker productivity for obesity and obesity-associated chronic diseases in Louisiana and the rest of the country are staggering. Reducing obesity can be accomplished by diet and exercise and altering hunger or satiety signals.
Resistant starch is a substance in some foods that contributes to an increase in dietary fiber, supports a healthy weight, helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels and promotes digestive health. Resistant starch is found in beans, peas, lentils, foods cooked and then cooled (potatoes, pasta), wholegrain breads and cereals, and bananas.
Whey protein is produced during the cheese development process and aids in maintaining a healthy weight, reducing appetite, building and repairing lean muscle and reducing muscle loss.
Researchers from the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Baton Rouge, in collaboration with scientists from the LSU AgCenter and Pennington Biomedical Research Center, conducted a study to show the effect of whey protein and resistant starch in combination in the form of shakes and smoothies on satiety and energy expenditure and reduction of body weight. The primary goal of this project was to develop innovative food products effective in reducing body fat.
The 26 study participants were 18-40 years old, African-American males and females with BMIs (body mass index) greater than 30. The participants were divided into two groups. The treatment group consumed shakes and smoothies made with whey protein and resistant starch, and the control group consumed the same shakes and smoothies made with starch powder. The shakes were consumed by the participants every morning for 24 weeks. Dietary intake was assessed at the beginning of the study, and every participant kept a food diary. The participants came to Southern University weekly for body weight measurements, to obtain their shake mixes, submit their daily diaries, attend nutrition education classes and complete questionnaires and evaluation evaluation forms. Nutrition education was conducted once a week for 12 weeks and once a month for the remaining 12 weeks. To monitor body fat distribution, a Dual X-Ray Absorptiometer (DXA) was used at the beginning and at the end of study.
Participants in both groups lost weight, including one who lost 62 pounds. The treatment group, especially those who participated in nutrition education classes and applied what they learned to their diets and lifestyles, lost significantly more weight than the control group. These variations in weight loss, along with findings from many other weight loss and weight management studies, suggest that future weight loss programs must be more individualized and include nutrition education.
The participants were encouraged to drink their shakes and smoothies for breakfast. Not skipping breakfast is recommended in a weight loss program because people who eat breakfast tend to lose more weight at higher rates than those who do not eat breakfast. The participants in this study who lost the most weight were the ones who consumed the shake early in the morning, compared to participants consuming the shakes after exercising and later during the day. Additionally, diaries reflected that changes in daily food selection and eating schedule can be determining factors for consistent weight loss.
The results of this study are promising. Whey protein and resistant starch incorporated into food, in conjuction with nutrition education intervention, can be used in developing noninvasive, practical, consumer-friendly and cost-effective approaches to combat the national obesity epidemic.
Fatemeh Malekian and Sebhatu Gebrelul, professors; Kasundra Cyrus, specialist; De’Shoin Friendship, associate specialist; and Janana Snowden, post-doctoral fellow, all from the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center; Betty Kennedy, community outreach specialist, Pennington Biomedical Research Center; and Jack Losso, professor, LSU AgCenter School of Nutrition and Food Science.
(This article was published in the 2014 winter issue of Louisiana Agriculture magazine.)