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High-protein diet helps burn fat

Higher-protein meals may help overweight and obese people burn more fat.

High-protein diet helps burn fat

Higher-protein meals may help overweight and obese people burn more fat. Research has shown that overweight people are less efficient at burning fat after a meal than thinner people. In the following study, researchers looked at whether the protein composition of a meal affects that weight-related gap. Previous studies have suggested that high-protein diets may help people shed weight more easily - possibly, in part, because proteins suppress appetite better than fat or carbohydrates do. Researchers from Australia studied 18 adults whose metabolism was tested on 3 separate days, after meals. The average age of the study group was 40 years; eight subjects were overweight, six subjects had a normal weight, and four were obese. On day one, they were given a control breakfast and lunch composed of 58 percent carbohydrates and 14 percent protein. On the other 2 days, their meals were more balanced, with about one third of calories coming from protein and another third from carbohydrates. In the 8 hours after the control meal, the researchers found that overweight and obese participants burned less fat than their thinner counterparts did. But that gap was closed when participants ate the higher-protein meals. Overweight men and women burned more post-meal fat when they ate a high-protein breakfast and lunch than when they had lower-protein meals. That is, the added protein seemed to modify the fat-burning deficit seen in heavy individuals. The findings suggest that people with higher body fat burn fat better after a high-protein meal than people with lower levels of body fat. The protein-rich meals contained low-fat dairy, lean meat and eggs, along with bread and vegetables as carbohydrate sources. Experts recommend that people looking to increase protein intake in their diets choose their sources carefully favouring foods like fish, poultry, low-fat dairy, beans and nuts. The researchers emphasised the need to test whether vegetarian sources of protein have similar effects on overweight adults' fat metabolism.
Nutrition and Dietetics
November 2008
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