The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of a meal-replacement regimen vs.
comprehensive lifestyle changes in overweight or obese subjects on intra-abdominal fat stores (Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) measurements) and cardiometabolic risk factors. Forty-two obese men (n
= 18) and women (n
= 24) (age 49 ± 8 years; weight 96.3 ± 12.1 kg; BMI 32.7 ± 2.3 kg/m2
) were selected for this randomized parallel-group design investigation. Subjects in the lifestyle group (LS-G; n
= 22) received dietary counselling sessions and instructions how to increase physical activity. In the meal replacement group (MR-G; n
= 20) meals were replaced by a low-calorie drink high in soy protein. After six months, subjects in the LS-G lost 8.88 ± 6.24 kg and subjects in the MR-G lost 7.1 ± 2.33 kg; p
< 0.01 for changes within groups; no significant differences were found between the groups. Lean body mass remained constant in both intervention groups. MRI analyses showed that internal fat was significantly reduced in both groups to a comparable amount; the higher fat loss in the LS-G in the abdominal area was due to a higher reduction in subcutaneous fat. Both interventions significantly reduced components of the cardiometabolic risk profile and leptin levels. The decrease in the adipokines fetuin A and resistin was more pronounced in the MR-G. In conclusion, both interventions significantly reduced body weight, total fat mass and internal abdominal fat while preserving lean body mass. The reduction in the adipokines fetuin A and resistin was more pronounced in the meal replacement group suggesting an additional effect of soy protein components.
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