Can eating high-protein meals help you lose weight? Here's what one study found
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From protein bars to protein drinks to high-protein meals and snacks, extra protein consumption seems to consume every dieter and diet trend today. Do you tend to feel fuller when you eat more protein? Is it easier to stick to your calorie budget when you do? A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition supports this idea.
Researchers used a clever design to prevent participants from knowing the macronutrient (fat, carb, protein) content of their meals. The meals contained the same types of food and the same amount of fat, but the protein and carb content was altered. Certain meals included additional whey or soy protein. At the research center, participants were given 30 minutes to eat each meal and eat as much as they liked. They were also given snacks to eat between meals if desired.
Study participants consumed either low-protein meals (5% calories from protein), typical protein meals (15% calories from protein), or high-protein meals (30% calories from protein). They followed each diet type for 12 days, with a 6-week wash-out period (back to their usual diet) between the study diets.
When participants ate high-protein meals, they ate significantly fewer total daily calories (1722 calories) than other meals. When they ate typical protein meals or low-protein meals, they consumed more than 2200 calories. That equals about 500 fewer calories a day compared to the other lower-protein levels. Maintaining this calorie difference could result in significant weight loss.
Despite eating fewer calories with higher-protein meals, participants rated their hunger and satisfaction similar to the other diets. It didn't matter if the extra protein came from whey or soy protein; either protein source resulted in lower calorie intake.
Increasing protein intake may help you in your quest to limit calorie intake. In this study, the high-protein diet provided an average of 1.6 grams of protein per kg body weight. In contrast, the typical-protein diet provided an average of 0.9 grams of protein per kg body weight (just above the U.S. RDA).
If you are struggling to stick to your calorie budget, experiment with higher-protein meals to see if they can help spur weight loss. With MyNetDiary, you can customize and select a higher-protein macronutrient goal. You will find more than 100 high-protein recipes in MyNetDiary's Premium Recipe Collection. If you try a high-protein diet, focus on heart-healthy protein choices, such as fish, nuts, seeds, and beans. Take advantage of nutrient tracking to help monitor your diet for saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and more.
If your healthcare provider recommends limiting protein for a medical condition (such as kidney or liver disease), please follow their advice.
Reviewed and updated on October 7, 2020 by Sue Heikkinen MS, RDN, CDCES
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