If you think a high protein diet is only useful for bodybuilders or marathoners, it might be time to rethink: not only can high protein diets build muscle and optimize body composition, they can also curb hunger, enhance satiety, and promote weight loss.
I think we’d all say that choosing an egg is better for you than a waffle. What you might be wondering is just how much better is it, and why is it so effective? Whether you want to lose weight, keep weight off, or maintain, research shows that a high protein diet is most effective for all three goals. Is a high protein diet right for you?
In the longest term weight loss study, those who consistently followed a high protein diet lost more weight than those following a medium protein diet1 Over the course of the study, total caloric intake dropped only ~12%, and we’re not talking outrageous levels of protein here: 21.2% of calories, or just over 100 grams/day.
After 6 months of dieting, the proportion of people who maintained big-time weight loss (over 20 pounds) was greater in the high protein group. And at 12 and 24 months, only those in the high protein group were able to keep off 20 or more pounds. So, as we can see from the following chart, keeping those protein levels high is actually a big plus not only for the weight loss phase, but also for maintenance. Not bad on the protein score.
This is not an isolated finding. Another group jacked up protein to 133 grams and the results were even more profound2 The group with the high protein diet definitely drops far more significantly than the carb group (approx. 10kg vs. 6kg). Obviously, our own personal diets aren’t marked by a certain time frame, but if you’re planning on dieting and moving into a maintenance phase, these findings could be a good way to plan a diet that can help you lose the weight and keep it off.
In one study, researchers gave a group of volunteers a breakfast consisting of either eggs, cereal, or croissants…and all had the same calories. They then recorded how much these volunteers ate at lunch and dinner.3 The difference they found was astounding:
Those who had eggs were hungry for 300-400 fewer calories later in the day! similar observations have been made before: high protein is better than low protein4, eggs are better than bagels5, etc., etc. If you fuel your body the right way, you will be far less likely to consume too much later on.
In a seminal “overfeeding” study67 researchers showed that when excess calories consumed were from protein, they were invested into building new muscle, whereas when they were fat, well, they were stored as fat7 If you’re going to be storing anything in your body, wouldn’t you prefer it to be anything other than fat?
Whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, high protein diets have the longest-term clinically documented success record. In other words, they are safe and effective, and can hopefully help you lose or keep off the weight that you don’t want!