Many people turn to high-protein foods when trying to lose weight because eating protein-rich meals is commonly believed to make dieters feel fuller. Yet, this notion hadn't been tested on a large scale.
In a new study from the Ingestive Behavior Research Center at Purdue University, researchers conducted a review of the evidence on the effect of protein intake on perceived fullness. Their conclusion: protein does, in fact, make us feel fuller.
The recent popularity of low-carb, high-protein diets can partially be attributed to the fact that dieters often feel fuller when protein intake is high, even if they are consuming fewer calories overall. Evidence suggests that protein activates the release of satiety hormones and, therefore, should be strongly tied with fullness ratings.
With the confirmation that protein intake is related to satiety, defined as fullness between meals, modestly higher protein intake may allow people to feel fuller between meals.
Yet, while protein may help dieters feel fuller, it is by no means a magic bullet since feelings like hunger and fullness are not the only factors that influence food intake.
The exact amount of protein needed to prolong the feeling of fullness as well as when to consume protein throughout the day is not known. Even so, people looking to curb their calorie intake by enhancing the feeling of fullness might consider a moderate increment in protein consumption at meals as a first step.
If these findings are sustained over the long-term - the study only looked at short-term effects – increasing protein intake at meals may aid in the loss or maintenance of body weight.
Source: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, online March 2016.
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