High-protein diets are an increasingly popular weight-loss strategy for dieters. While current research hints that protein, rather than fats or carbohydrates, best satisfies a dieter‘s hunger, can protein really help you lose weight?
There is a difference between animal protein and vegetable protein, so before you consider protein for weight loss, make sure you understand which is which. Whole-grains, beans, and nuts are a few of the best sources of vegetable protein; while fish and poultry are great choices of animal protein. Red meats contain protein, as well, but make sure you choose the leanest cuts available and consume them in moderation. There is conflicting evidence on whether red meats can be harmful, so it makes sense to choose white meats and fish to be on the safe side.
Current Studies of Protein for Weight Loss
Medical researchers once dismissed the notion that protein is good for weight loss, mainly because diets were based simply on speculation and assumptions. But today’s nutrition and nursing schools teach things a little differently. Clinical trials have studied the difference between high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets and low fat, high-carbohydrate diets. The evidence seems to point to the benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet for an effective weight loss tool.
In 2007, a yearlong study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association described results. Four diets were initiated: the Atkins, Ornish, Zone, and LEARN. Overweight, pre-menopausal women in all four groups achieved rapid weight loss within six months, the Atkins group recording the quickest loss. Then all groups regained some weight. At the one-year mark, the Atkins group noted an average loss of 10 pounds; the Ornish dieters, 5 pounds; the Zoners, 3.5 pounds; and the LEARNers, 6 pounds. Researchers also noted healthy levels of blood lipids, harmful LDL, and protective HDL among all groups.
How Does Protein Work?
In some studies, high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets worked more quickly than others simply because high-protein slows digestion. You maintain a feeling of fullness for longer periods since food moves out of the stomach more slowly. Secondly, protein is gentle on your blood sugar, so you don’t experience quick rises. Finally, you exert more energy digesting protein than when digesting fats or carbohydrates.
While protein can help you lose weight, there’s no reason to cut out any other food group completely. Your body needs the vitamins, minerals, and fiber found in fruits and whole-grains. The best protein you can consume is plant-based protein that’s low in saturated fat. Not only will you lose weight, you’ll keep your heart healthy.
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