A high protein intake allows a healthier diet

THE ESSENTIAL

  • Overweight is defined as a body mass index greater than 25.
  • The national health security agency recommends consuming 0.83 g/kg/d of protein for an adult.

Meat, fish, eggs, lentils, dairy products, tofu: there are many sources of protein. In case of diet, it is better to consume enough. According to a study published in the specialist journal Obesitya large proportion of protein in the diet contributes to a better nutritional balance.

National recommendations

This work, carried out by a scientific team from Rutgers University, located in New Jersey, involved 200 people, men and women. Aged 24 to 75, the participants were either obese or overweight. All followed a restrictive diet, reducing their intake by 500 calories per day. For six months, they had regular appointments with nutritionists. The advice provided followed the recommendations of the American Diabetes Association: participants were encouraged to increase the proportion of protein in their caloric intake, by consuming more lean proteins, such as poultry, unprocessed red meat, fish, legumes and dairy products, and spend the rest of their calories on fruits, vegetables and whole grain products. Conversely, they were encouraged to reduce the share devoted to saturated fats, refined cereals, sugar and salt.

The scientists offered them two options: a low-protein diet with 18% of total calories coming from protein, or a higher-protein diet with 20% of overall dietary intake coming from protein. Throughout the study, participants completed detailed food logs, which researchers analyzed to determine diet quality, specific food categories eaten, and protein ratios and sources.

Better food choices

The researchers found that regardless of the proportion of protein, weight loss was similar in both groups. On average, it corresponds to 5% of their total weight in six months. In contrast, people in the group with a higher proportion of protein tended to make healthier food choices. For example, they increased their intake of green vegetables and reduced their intake of sugar and refined grains. According to the researchers, this also allowed them to retain their muscle mass.

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He is remarkable that a slightly higher self-selected protein intake during a diet is accompanied by a higher intake of green vegetables and a lower intake of refined grains and added sugar“, rejoices Sue Shapses, author of the study and professor of nutritional sciences at the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS). Other studies on this theme should be conducted, with different participants, such as the elderly or children for example.

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