If you want to lose weight, stay healthy and look toned, you need to have most of your lost weight come out of your body fat. A good way to do this: Eat more protein.
Research at the University of Illinois and Penn State suggests that to keep muscle, dieters have to be sure to get enough protein in their meals. They also found that protein helps lower your risk of food cravings and may provide protection against heart disease and diabetes.
Our latest study shows you have a better chance of achieving all these goals if you follow a diet that is moderately high in protein,” says researcher Donald Layman.
The study followed the weight-loss efforts of 130 persons at both universities. Half of the people followed a moderate-protein diet (40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein, 30 percent fat) while the others followed a diet based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food-guide pyramid (55 percent carbohydrates, 15 percent protein, 15 percent fat). Both groups consumed the same number of calories.
“The additional protein (in the first group) helped dieters preserve muscle. That’s important for long-term weight loss because muscle burns calories — if you lose muscle, and you used to be able to consume 2,000 calories without gaining weight, you’ll find that now you can only eat, say, 1,800 calories without weight gain,” says Layman.
Layman points out another benefit of eating protein: “Subjects on the moderate-protein diet reported that they weren’t as interested in snacks or desserts, and they didn’t have food cravings. When you eat protein, you feel full longer.”