New research says that in order to burn fat and lose weight, plain ol' protein ain't enough—you've got to kick up your workouts too!

By Macaela Mackenzie
Updated: March 04, 2016
Corbis Images

Grab your protein powder and your lifting gloves: If you're trying to score some serious muscle definition (we know you're in there, six-pack abs!), just upping your protein consumption isn't going to cut it. New research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that to do the trick, a high-protein diet needs to be paired with heavy resistance training five days a week.

When a group of people either ate a high-protein diet and switched to a split resistance training routine (alternating between arm days and leg days) for eight weeks, or ate a normal protein diet and followed the same ol' training schedule, the group that added the resistance training regimen experienced a three percent drop in body fat. The normal protein group saw less than a one percent drop. The high-protein group also lost weight-and the normal protein group actually put on a few under the increased resistance training. Yikes!

We know that protein is essential for building new muscle-but, really, that's only half of the equation. Previous studies have shown that a high-protein diet alone, defined as 4 grams of protein for every 2 pounds you weigh (twice the recommended daily amount for an active adult), does nothing for your body composition-i.e. no new muscle.

"The traditional view is that you have to eat less and workout more to lose fat," says Jose Antonio, Ph.D., an assistant professor in exercise and sports science at Nova Southeastern University. But the technique in this study actually asks you to eat more in order to reduce body fat. (We're so in!)

So how can you get started? People in the study did a combination of strengthening exercises that worked their chest and shoulders, triceps, biceps, back, and legs. Great news: You can get all of these body-changing benefits without a trendy (read: expensive) new workout class. Try alternating between circuts of bench presses, tricep dips, rows, curls and squats, lunges, and calf raises to make the most of your protein push. (Another place to start: This 10-Minute Tighten-and-Tone Workout from Shaun T.)


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