Why eat extra protein?
Want to feel full, lose body weight and gain muscle? Recent studies show that eating more protein may be the solution to improving your body composition and blood pressure. This may seem too good to be true, so let’s take a closer look at why this approach is beneficial and why it may work for you.
How does this affect our health?
Dietary protein helps you stay fuller longer, keeps your energy up and maintains your muscle mass. One study placed 72 obese subjects on a required protein diet or on a high protein diet. Both diets aided in body weight loss, the loss of body fat and a fat free mass sparing effect. However, there were stronger results with the high protein diet. Since these participants remained full, they were more compliant with the diet and had a better attitude towards eating. When a low protein diet was observed, a rapid body weight regain was shown. It has also been suggested that a high protein diet can reverse metabolic problems including insulin sensitivity and lipid metabolism, lower blood pressure and decrease fat mass. This study suggests that people consume 1.2 gram of protein/kilogram of body weight for maximum benefit. Harvard Medical School reported that most Americans consume about 15 percent of their calories from protein, which is well within the recommended daily requirements.
Bottom Line: Obesity is a serious chronic disease due to its co-morbidities. Weight loss and weight maintenance can assist in reducing obesity rates. Consuming adequate amounts of dietary protein has been shown to keep individuals full for longer periods of time, improve energy expenditure and help maintain muscle mass. Aim to have protein with all your meals. This can be as easy as having eggs for breakfast, adding beans or meat to a salad at lunch, and including a portion of lean meat at dinner time.
Written by: Emelie Buell, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern
1. British Journal of Nutrition
2. Harvard Health Publishing