Optimising fat loss & lean muscle gain

In this blog, I discuss a research article on fat loss and lean muscle gain. In my personal experience this has been very successful for me in the past and on other people. I did not however consider the effect different protein supplements may have and will be interested to experiment on myself, as I predominately supplement with whey protein.

I hope you enjoy the research findings and find them interesting – please feel free to discuss.

The Research…

Robert H. Demling and Leslie DeSanti (2000) did an experiment on 38 overweight police officers over 12 weeks – they were split into 3 groups:

Group 1: Hypocaloric diet alone of 75 -85% needs

Group 2: Hypocaloric diet of 75 -85% needs + resistance training + high protein intake (whey)

Group 3: Hypocaloric diet of 75 -85% needs + resistance training + high protein intake (casein)


  • All participants needed to maintain calories of 80-85% of recommended values
  • Fat intake could not exceed 25% of total recommended calories
  • 2/3 (80%) of carbohydrates had to be complex
  • Group 1 had to consume 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight
  • Group 2 + 3 had to consume 1.5g (25%) of protein per kg of body and take two protein supplements per day (one after workout and 8 hours between each one)


  • Progressive resistance training programme on 4 days per week with rest days between each session
  • Sessions monitored by an experienced trainer
  • Routines took 30-35 minutes
  • Maximum effort measured every 4 weeks in shoulder press, leg extension and chest press
  • Aerobic exercises performed on rest days


Diet-alone (Group 1)

Average weight loss of up to 2.5kg (mostly from fat loss alone)

Average fat loss of 2%

Gradual declines in lean muscle mass

Diet, Exercise and Whey Protein Study (Group 2)

Average weight loss of up to 2.8kg

Average fat loss of 4.2kg (4%)

Average lean muscle gain of 2kg

Average 28% increase in strength gains

Diet, Exercise and Casein Protein Study (Group 3)

Average weight loss of up to 2.3kg

Average fat loss of 7kg (8%)

Average lean muscle gain of 4kg

Average 59% increase in strength gains


Diet-alone achieved weight loss, but body composition did not change much and fat loss did not decrease as much as the other two groups. There was also evidence of gradual lean muscle decline and this could be associated with decreasing strength. It is also worth noting that the participants were already in a calorie deficit before participating in the research, as part of experiment all participants were required to control their diet with a set criteria, therefore these results may not have been as promising with a calorie deficit alone.

The other two groups with a higher protein intake and resistance training programme showed significant fat loss and lean muscle gain, as well as strength gains, however the increases are noticeably more significant in the group who supplemented with casein protein.

Researchers noted that gains begun to diminish between 8-12 weeks of the study.

Practical Application:

The recommendations for optimal fat loss and lean muscle gain:

  • Calories should be set at 75-85% of recommended intake
  • No more than 25% of total calories should come from fat
  • 2/3 or 80% of carbohydrates should be complex
  • At least 25% of calories should come from protein
  • Strength programme is recommended for fat loss and increase in lean muscle
  • If using protein supplements, then casein appears to yield better results than whey protein


Robert H.Demling, Leslie DeSanti (2000) Effect of a Hypocaloric Diet, Increased Protein Intake and Resistance Training on Lean Mass Gains and Fat Mass Loss in Overweight Police Officers. Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism 2000;44:21-29.

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