Let’s talk about high-protein diets and weight loss.
There are several mechanisms by which protein actually allows you to maintain a good weight and even lose weight. That’s why so many people were excited about paleo and keto diets. These diets tend to help people feel better and burn off extra fat.
There are several reasons why protein helps people lose weight.
1. Protein helps reduce cravings for sugary, high-fat, high-calorie foods. Protein tends to generate satiety via hormonal and other mechanisms. There’s no doubt that people who eat a high-protein diet feel fuller, look better, and weigh less. When you eat protein, your satiety goes up, and your appetite goes down.
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2. Protein has something called a thermic effect, which is greater than for carbs and fats. The thermic effect is the energy the body uses to metabolize or burn food. For protein, the thermic effect is 20 to 30%, if not higher. This means that the body increases its metabolic rate when digesting protein. Carbs have a much lower thermic effect, which makes it easier to gain weight from eating starchy food than from eating high-protein food. The same is true for high-fat foods.
3. A high protein diet ramps up the production of certain hormones and reduces the production of others. Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, is suppressed with high protein intake. Cholecystokinin, a pancreatic hormone, increases in response to protein-intake and also helps reduce appetite. Carbohydrates don’t cause the same hormonal response.
Remember, that even though protein is vital for weight loss, you also need carbohydrates and fiber in your diet. A high-protein diet doesn’t feed the beneficial gut bacteria the way carbs such as resistant starches do.