By Caroline Cederquist, M.D.
If you are cutting out protein from your daily dish, your hunger may be harder to fight. Researchers at the University of Australia found that people who ate less protein each day, consumed 12% more calories each day, specifically in the form of fat and carbohydrates.
With obesity and overeating being one of the greatest health battles we are fighting today, we need all the help we can get to curb hunger, lose weight, and stay healthy and fit.
As it turns out, protein can pack a real punch.
To test whether protein can curb hunger or not, researchers disguised the amount of protein that subjects were taking in, and participants (who were a normal weight) had a fixed menu of 28 foods, with one group getting 10% protein, another group getting 15% protein, and the last group getting 25% protein.
They were allowed to eat as much as they wanted, and snacking anytime was permitted.
They discovered that by lowering the amount of protein the subjects ate, the amount of total calories the participants decided to eat increased, and the increase came particularly from high fat, high carbohydrate snacks. After 4 days, there was a greater increase on the hunger score for participants who only had 10% protein, compared the 25% protein group.
The two lower-protein groups ate an average of 12% more calories each day. For someone who eats approximately 1,500 calories each day, if they eat less protein, then when given the choice they will inadvertently consume an average of 200 additional calories each day.
If this intake continues, especially without an increase in exercise, researchers predicted that the individuals in the study would gain an additional 2 pounds each month, just as a result of not getting enough daily protein.
It happens in animals too. When the percentage of protein intake in primates, pigs, rodents, birds, fish, and insects is lowered, they all eat more, and therefore increase their total caloric intake. They eat fewer calories when they are meeting daily protein requirements.
Researchers discussed that lower protein intakes can result in overconsumption, which of course leads to weight gain. They recommend that people prioritize their intakes of protein to a target level to help prevent overeating and curb hunger.
At Cederquist Medical Wellness Center, we recommend a very specific protein goal based upon an individual. The amount of protein a 6’2 man requires is very different from the amount of protein a 5’5 woman needs, although both need to ensure their daily intake of protein is adequate, or they will find themselves eating more, and potentially gaining weight.
The good news for many people is that consuming more lean protein does not mean you must eat more meat. Lean protein can be sourced from low-fat dairy products like cheese, yogurt, and whey protein. Also fish, soy products, and nuts provide quality protein that can help you curb hunger and lose weight at the same time. Other great sources of lean protein include chicken, turkey, lean pork, and lowfat deli meats.
For personalized protein recommendations, call our office to set up an appointment to discuss what your daily protein goals should be for optimum health, and to give you the best chance to succeed in weight loss.
Cederquist Medical Wellness Center
1575 Pine Ridge Road
Suite 19, Naples, FL 34109