Research Proven Weight Loss: High Protein

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How does protein consumption effect weight loss?  I am not going o discuss a particular source of protein.  This is a post reviewing general research on amount of protein consumption and weight loss.  

The fad diets are out there.  Everyone has heard of Dr. Adkins and his high protein and low carbohydrate diet.  Almost every dieter has tried it on one or more occasion.   Is there any research to back up using a high or higher protein diet?

One of the claims that is common of high protein and low carbohydrate diets is that it will increase weight loss and reduce body fat in those that embark on them.  One supportive study is by Evan in 2012.  In this study, protein was found to be more effective in reducing percent body fat over carbohydrate during 12 month weight loss and maintenance program.  In this study, higher protein diets appeared to be more effective in men than women[1].  

Lean body mass is the factory that burns calories.  As we age, we loss muscle mass and become less lean.  This is likely one reason why we have difficulty losing weight as we age.  Bopp et al. found that low protein intake in postmenopausal women is associated with lean muscle mass.  They also postulated that adding protein might reduce lean mass loss and this would obviously also help with weight loss or maintenance.

There are many studies that show high protein weight loss diets tend to show higher fat loss than the standard weight loss diet.  One study showed that higher protein meal replacement within a higher protein diet resulted in similar overall weight loss as the standard protein meal replacement plans over 12 weeks study. However, there was significantly more fat loss in the high protein group but no significant difference in lean body mass[2].  This study did have an issue with compliance in the test group but still showed a significant increase in weight loss.   

One last group of studies by Loenneke looked that the association in our diets between protein consumption and body composition.  As we age, our body composition changes as our body fat and waist line increase.  One clear finding from the study is an inverse relationship between quality protein in our diet and waist circumference[3].   Another report by Loenneke also confirm the same result but expands it to indicate that both quality protein intake and frequency are positively associated with favorable body composition[4].  

So what does this research indicate, lower protein intakes are tied to truncal obesity and weight gain.  Both of these are also tied to metabolic syndrome and an increase diabetes type II risk.  

Will it help you lose weight?  As long as you don’t have kidney disease or another reason to be on a low protein diet, it cannot hurt to raise your protein intake.  I recommend 1 grams per Kg body weight.  I weigh about 212 pounds which is almost 100 Kg.  I will try to increase my intake to 100 grams.  

 

Footnotes
[1]Evans et al., “Effects of Protein Intake and Gender on Body Composition Changes: A Randomized Clinical Weight Loss Trial.”
[2]Treyzon et al., “A Controlled Trial of Protein Enrichment of Meal Replacements for Weight Reduction with Retention of Lean Body Mass.”
[3]Loenneke et al., “Quality Protein Intake Is Inversely Related with Abdominal Fat.”
[4]Loenneke et al., “Short Report: Relationship between Quality Protein, Lean Mass and Bone Health.”

References:

Evans, EM, MC Mojtahedi, MP Thorpe, RJ Valentine, PM Kris-Etherton, and DK Layman. “Effects of Protein Intake and Gender on Body Composition Changes: A Randomized Clinical Weight Loss Trial.” Nutrition & Metabolism 9, no. 1 (June 12, 2012): 55 [PubMed]
Loenneke, JP, A Balapur, AD Thrower, G Syler, M Timlin, and TJ Pujol. “Short Report: Relationship between Quality Protein, Lean Mass and Bone Health.” Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism 57, no. 3–4 (January 1, 2010): 219–20 [PubMed]
Loenneke, JP, JM Wilson, AH Manninen, ME Wray, JT Barnes, and TJ Pujol. “Quality Protein Intake Is Inversely Related with Abdominal Fat.” Nutrition & Metabolism 9, no. 1 (January 27, 2012): 5 [PubMed]
Treyzon, L, S Chen, K Hong, E Yan, CL Carpenter, G Thames, S Bowerman, HJ Wang, R Elashoff, and Z Li. “A Controlled Trial of Protein Enrichment of Meal Replacements for Weight Reduction with Retention of Lean Body Mass.” Nutrition Journal 7 (August 27, 2008): 23 [PubMed]
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About the Author

ChuckH

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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