Could a higher protein intake lead to healthier eating?



Eating a variety of nutritious foods is essential to health and well-being. What makes up people’s diet will impact multiple areas of health, including maintaining a healthy weight. Protein is a critical component of the diet. A recent studyTrusted Source published in the journal ObesityTrusted Source found that increasing protein in the diet may be helpful for people involved in weight loss programs. Specifically, it may impact food choices and reduce the loss of lean body mass.

ProteinsTrusted Source are nutrients that allow the human body to function appropriately. Protein helps the body maintain its structure and controls functions in the body and its cells. People can get protein from various sources, including meat, dairy, some vegetables and grains. One challenge for people who are working toward weight loss is maintaining lean body mass while getting rid of excess fat. Lean body mass (LBM) has to do with the body’s mass that is not made up of adipose tissue or body fat. Part of this amount is made up of the muscles, or the muscle mass.

Dr. Anastasia Kalea with the University College London Division of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, explained to Medical News Today: “While several dietary, lifestyle, [behavioral], pharmacological or combination weight-loss interventions are promising, they often face the challenge of loss of lean body mass, which has multiple negative health implications. It affects one’s quality of life, [and] the ability to conduct activities of daily living, has effects on neuromuscular function, emotion and psychological states, and it also affects the sustainability of weight loss because it is linked to metabolic decline.”

“The holy grail of a successful weight loss intervention is to find a way to maintain LBM. Therefore, weight loss strategies that protect lean body mass are of value.”

Researchers are still working to understand how protein intake impacts lean muscle mass and how to best implement protein into weight-loss diets. In this study, researchers sought to examine how “the change in self-selected protein intake during caloric restriction (CR) alters diet quality and lean body mass (LBM).”

The study used pooled data from multiple trials and included participants who met specific eligibility criteria. Researchers evaluated 207 adults before and over six months of diets that restricted calorie intake. All participants were either overweight or obese.

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