Benefits of a high-protein diet

Cause and effect

For the first time in human history, there are more overweight people (2.1 billion) in the world than underweight individuals–and the prevalence of obesity is expected to double in the next 30 years.

Great time to be a diet doctor, I guess…but, wow–those are depressing numbers.

In an interesting study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the authors tried to distinguish what actually causes weight gain. First they split 25 people into three groups. The groups were placed on either a low-protein diet, a regular-protein diet, or a high-protein diet. Then, after four weeks following their specified diet plan, all the participants were “overfed” for an additional 8 weeks.

All of the groups gained weight–no surprise there. But those in the low-protein group actually gained the least, which made it seem like the winner. Or, at the very least, made high-protein diets seem pointless, since those participants gained the most weight. The study authors concluded that “overall calorie intake, not the amount of protein in one’s diet, is what influences weight loss.”

But that’s not entirely true. There are a few key details that got glossed over in all the reports I read about this research that tell a different story…

First of all, the people following the low-protein diet lost muscle. And considering that muscle mass weighs more than fat, it’s not entirely accurate to claim that they gained the least of the three groups.

More interesting, though, is what happened in the high-protein group. True, the people in this group gained more weight during the “overfeeding” phase of the study. But guess what else happened? They increased their lean body mass and their “resting energy expenditure.” Which means they burned more calories doing NOTHING than they did before beginning the high-protein diet.

In other words, they revved up their metabolism simply by eating more protein.

If you ask me, that certainly sounds like it would influence weight loss. Especially if you’re not deliberately overeating, as the subjects were instructed to do in this study.

So my question is this: If the evidence supports eating a higher protein diet with less sugar and simple carbohydrates (like the New Hamptons Health Miracle)–why did it get presented in a way that belittled the importance of protein and the benefits it can offer? Especially when our obesity rates are at critical mass (no pun intended)?

The fact is, we have the answer to the obesity epidemic, the diabetes epidemic, and just about every other epidemic out there staring us in the face. And just because the so-called “experts” keep burying their heads in the sand doesn’t mean you should sit on the sidelines and let this truly miraculous cure pass you by.

It’s delicious, it’s easy, and it just makes sense.