8 January 2013 Can a High Protein Meal Plan Help You Lose Weight?

Yes! 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. Of interest, a research team from the Netherlands (Martens, Lemmens, and Westererp-Plantenga) just published a nifty study that showed people consume fewer calories when their protein intake rises. Their study is published in the current edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (January 2013).

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 foods 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 (7.21 MJ or 1722 kcal) than if they ate either the typical protein meals (9.62 MJ or 2298 kcal) or the low protein meals (9.33 MJ or 2228 kcal). 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 whey (milk) or soy – either source of protein resulted in a lower calories intake.

The take home message is that a higher protein intake can 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, especially if you find you have stalled out.

Of course, be smart and choose heart healthier protein choices. Be sure to read my article on protein. Also, check your Food Report (Details tab on web or in Meals screen in app) to make sure your saturated fat doesn't climb sky high in your effort to increase protein. Some protein foods can also be very high in saturated fat and calories, so take advantage of nutrient tracking reports to help you tweak your food choices. For more information on fats, read my article at MyNetDiary.

And finally, if your doctor has recommended that you limit protein intake for a medical condition, (e.g. for certain kidney or liver conditions), then please follow that recommendation and do not experiment with a higher protein diet.

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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Meal Planning & Diets/High Protein Nutrients/Protein Weight Loss/Appetite & Satiety

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