To Feel Fuller, Fill Up on Protein

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition tested 19 subjects on three different diets. Researchers measured appetite, caloric intake, body weight, and fat mass, as well as blood measurements for insulin, leptin (the hormone responsible for satiety) and ghrelin (the hunger hormone) during each of the phases.

First, subjects followed a weight-maintenance diet of 15% protein, 35% fat, and 50% carbohydrate for two weeks.

Next, the subjects ate the same number of calories (an "isocaloric" diet), but with a different nutrient breakdown (30% protein, 20% fat, and 50% carbohydrate) for two weeks. This diet resulted in markedly increased satiety, although leptin levels did not change.

Finally, subjects followed an "ad libitum" diet (no caloric requirement or restriction), but were required to meet a specific nutrient breakdown of 30% protein, 20% fat, and 50% carbohydrate for 12 weeks. In this phase, participants spontaneously ate 376-504 fewer calories per day, and decreased both body weight and body fat. However, leptin levels decreased and ghrelin levels increased.

The researchers concluded that increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% of calories, with a constant carbohydrate intake, may be beneficial to weight loss.

Action Sparked
This 30% protein, 50% carbohydrate diet fits into the healthy distribution range set by the Food and Nutrition Board, the Institute of Medicine, and National Academy of Sciences. It appears to benefit those trying to lose weight and body fat. The trouble is that many sources of protein are also high in fat. For healthy protein sources, select low-fat dairy products (milk, cheese and yogurt), egg whites or egg substitutes. To enjoy lean meats, trim off excess fat and remove skin. Select cooking methods that limit fat such as grilling, baking or broiling. Many plant proteins, such as tofu, beans, legumes and other soy products are naturally low in fat as well.
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Member Comments

thanks Report
thanks Report
Indeed... Report
The article is Almost as interesting as the comments here. I tend to base my day on calories and that means no/ low sugar and a cap on carbs. When I check my nutritional breakdown each day, I can see when my protein is low - and why all the other are out of whack. We are all different and have unique needs- your plan may not work for me, but of one thing I am absolutely certain... Calories count. Report
Thanks for sharing Report
Great article. Report
Proteins an carbs take a priority on my serving plate. Report
Thank you so much for the info. Report
So much variety in protein information Report
Great article. Report
thank you Report
Great info Report
I have a real hard time getting my protein above 20%... do I have to eat 2 steaks for dinner? I would not mind that actually.... Report
Good info. Report
I always struggle trying to eat enough protein (diabetic), some days are better than others. Report


About The Author

Becky Hand
Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.