Can a high protein diet help you lose weight?
- 2 Minutes Read
Is there evidence supporting a higher protein diet for weight loss and are you getting enough protein?
Many of you trying to lose weight might have already noticed that when you consume high protein meals, you have an easier time sticking to your target calories for weight loss. Protein Leverage Affects Energy Intake of High-Protein Diets in Humans published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is one of the many studies that support this idea.
The study had a clever design to prevent participants from knowing the macronutrient (fat, carb, protein) content of their meals. Study meals contained the same type of food and had the same concentration of fat in the foods, but the protein and carb content was altered. Meals were designed to be identical in appearance so that macronutrient content was not revealed. Participants were allowed to eat for 30 minutes at each meal at the research center and could eat as much as they liked. Snacks were also provided to eat if desired outside of the center and containers were brought back so that snack calories could be counted. Snack choices were always the same after each meal under all diet conditions and were low in protein. Study participants followed each diet type for 12 days, followed by a 6-week wash-out period between diet conditions.
Low Protein Meals: 5% calories from protein, 60% calories from carbs, 35% calories from fat
Typical Protein Meals: 15% calories from protein, 50% calories from carbs, 35% calories from fat
High Protein Meals: 30% calories from protein, 35% calories from carbs, 35% calories from fat
When folks ate high protein meals, they ate significantly fewer total daily calories (1722 calories) than if they ate either the typical protein meals (2298 calories) or the low protein meals (2228 calories). That is, when they ate high protein meals, they ate about 500 fewer calories a day compared to the other protein levels.
Despite eating fewer calories with high protein meals, participants rated their hunger and satisfaction similarly to the other diet conditions. Also, it didn't seem to matter if the higher protein content was coming from milk or soy - either source of protein resulted in a lower calories intake.
The take home message is that a higher protein intake may help you in your quest to control calories intake, and thereby, help you lose weight. In this study, the high protein diet provided an average of 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight whereas the typical protein diet provided an average of 0.9 grams/kg body weight (which is just above the U.S. RDA). If you use MyNetDiary, you can customize your macronutrient percentages. If you find that you are struggling to lose weight despite calories tracking - then try experimenting with a higher protein intake to see if that can help you lose weight.
Of course, be smart and choose heart healthier protein choices. Check your daily meal summary to see how your higher protein diet affects other nutrients. Take advantage of nutrient tracking to help you tweak your food choices, especially saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium.
And finally, if your healthcare provider, who knows your medical history, has recommended that you limit protein intake for a medical condition, (e.g. for certain kidney or liver conditions), then by all means, follow his/her recommendation.
Originally published on 8 January 2013
Updated on 10 September 2019