A diet high in protein can help people lose weight and burn belly fat, studies find.
Shifting the diet towards low-fat dairy and lean meats leads to greater weight loss than a standard restricted diet.
Higher protein intake is thought to make people feel more satisfied, so decreasing calorie intake.
Diets containing more protein have been linked to better sleep, which can benefit weight loss.
Sticking to around 30 percent of calories from proteins also helps to lower blood sugar and lipid levels.
People in the study lost weight without losing bone mass, scientists found.
Dr Ellen Evans, study co-author, said:
“This is an important finding because many people, especially women in mid-life, are concerned with both obesity and osteoporosis.
Furthermore, treating obesity often increases risk for osteoporosis.
Many people lose bone mass when they lose weight.”
There were 130 overweight women in the study, half of whom were put on a high-protein and dairy diet.
Dr Evans said:
“Essentially we substituted lean meats and low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, etc., for some of the high-carbohydrate foods in the food-pyramid diet.
Participants also ate five servings of vegetables and two to three servings of fruit each day.”
The results showed that along with weight loss, people on a high protein diet had better bone health.
Dr Matthew Thorpe, the study’s’ first author, said:
“In the higher-protein group, bone density remained fairly stable, but bone health declined over time in the group that followed the conventional higher-carbohydrate diet.
A statistically significant treatment effect favored the higher-protein diet group.
The combination and/or interaction of dietary protein, calcium from dairy, and the additional vitamin D that fortifies dairy products appears to protect bone health during weight loss.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the Journal of Nutrition (Thorpe et al., 2008).