New research from the American Society for Nutrition suggests that a high-protein diet not only promotes better metabolism, but it may also be the key to fighting worldwide obesity. The findings have been published in The American Journal for Clinical Nutrition.
High-protein diets or total diet replacements, such as the popular keto diet, have been typically associated with weight loss. However, there is a lack of studies explaining clearly why increased protein intake affects weight.
Meanwhile, obesity has tripled worldwide in the last 45 years affecting more than 650 million adults today. Moreover, the complex health issue is affecting children as young as five years old according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Obesity is also associated with a higher risk of developing illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Several factors are leading to obesity such as genetics, lifestyle, and increased consumption of food high in fat and sugar. Combined, these factors lead to an “n energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended.”
Previous clinical trials, noted by the authors, have typically focused on participants with obesity and type 2 diabetes. None of the previous studies have focused on energy metabolism as a preventive measure against obesity.
On the other hand, high-protein diets with limited carbohydrate and fat intake help a person feel fuller with fewer calories and increases or maintains fat-free mass. Consuming more protein also increases the energy needed to burn calories or energy expenditure.
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High-Protein Diet and Controlled Diet
The new study focuses on the metabolic balance between a high-protein total diet replacement (HD-TDR) and a controlled diet (CON) or North American diet in 43 healthy adults. The HD-TDR consisted of 35% carbohydrate, 40% protein, and 25% fat while the CON adults consumed 55% carbs, 15% protein, and 30% fat. While on their designated diet, the whole body calorimeter measured the individuals’ resting metabolic rate.
The HD-TDR resulted in greater energy expenditure, protein, and fat oxidation rates compared to the North American diet. This conclusion suggests that a high-protein diet may promote fat loss better than a conventional isocaloric diet, a diet that consists of equal calories of carbs, fat, and protein typically recommended for weight loss.
Dr. Carla Prado from the University of Alberta explained that while her team’s study focused on healthy adults that weren’t overweight, the results can help nutritionists, dieticians, and health care centers to understand how diets affect the metabolism and weight regulation of people. “In our opinion, it is imperative to first understand the physiological impact of a high-protein total diet replacement in a healthy population group so that the effects are better translated in individuals with obesity and its related comorbidities.”
Earlier this year, a new Canadian clinical guideline stated that the existing health system needs to improve beyond treating obesity with only weight-loss strategies. A more effective approach is for patients to also recover from factors of obesity such as genetic risks, stress, and other psychological factors.
Read Also: Fighting Obesity is Not About Cutting Calories
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