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Lose Weight—and Keep It Off—on a High-Protein Diet

Evidence shows that high-protein, low-carb diets aren’t just a fad
Lose Weight—and Keep It Off—on a High-Protein Diet: Main Image
Researchers found that women on a high-protein diet kept more weight off at the end of a year than women on a high-carb diet
Weight-loss diets that push protein and restrict carbohydrates have become increasingly popular in the past decade, but do they work? This study says they can. Researchers found that women on a high-protein diet kept more weight off at the end of a year than women on a high-carb diet.

High protein = high rewards

In the never-ending quest to lose extra weight, ideas about the best way to diet come and go. Low-fat diets that emphasize carbohydrates (typically starches and grains) were the standard not long ago, but more recently there has been a shift to low-carb diets that emphasize protein. A number of studies have found that carbohydrate restriction can lead to more rapid weight loss than low-fat diets, but findings from other studies suggest that this difference evens out after one to two years.

The new study followed overweight women between ages 40 and 58 for a year after they finished a three-month weight-loss program:

  • either a high-protein diet, with 34% of calories from protein, 46% from carbohydrate, and 20% from fat,

  • or a high-carb diet, with 64% of calories from carbohydrate, 17% from protein, and 20% from fat.

At the end of the year, the women who managed to keep their protein portion up had more sustained weight loss: about 14 pounds (6.5 kg), compared with about 8 pounds (3.6 kg) for those eating the high-carb diet.

It is interesting to note that markers of heart health improved in women on both diets, including total cholesterol, LDL and HDL cholesterol, glucose, insulin, C-reactive protein, and homocysteine levels. These changes were associated with weight loss, but not with the protein content of their diet, suggesting that the road to weight loss might not be as important as the weight loss itself for keeping the heart healthy.

Power proteins

Try the following food sources and recipes for surefire ways to up the protein in your diet:

(Am J Clin Nutr 2008;87:23–9)

Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice in Quechee, VT, and does extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.

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