Is Eating Extra Protein Really Helpful?

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By Staff Reports

(DGIwire) You may have read that consuming more protein than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) is a helpful strategy during weight loss, or that consuming extra protein will keep you feeling fuller longer helping to control hunger.

The question is: Is it really helpful, healthful or even necessary?

Even though consuming extra protein to prevent loss of muscle mass (LBM) and help control hunger is often recommended when dieting, a new study has found that the strategy may eliminate an important health benefit of weight-loss and may not make a significant difference in either total weight or LBM loss.

Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that too much protein eliminates the usual improvement in insulin sensitivity. Improved insulin sensitivity is essential for lowering diabetes risk. They found that women who lost weight eating a high-protein diet didn’t experience any improvements in insulin sensitivity while women who consumed the RDA for protein (.8 grams per kilogram of weight) were significantly more sensitive to insulin at the conclusion of the study.

“Insulin sensitivity is a good measure of metabolic health and it typically can improve by 20 to 30 percent with weight loss. The study’s RDA protein group experienced this benefit but the higher protein group (1.2 grams per kilogram) did not. This is important because ineffective blood-sugar control will eventually result in type 2 diabetes,” according to Tom Griesel, co-author of TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust.

Improving insulin sensitivity and associated blood-sugar control reduces the risk for both diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Diabetes alone can cause many other health problems like neuropathy, infections in legs, feet and toes, blindness, kidney failure, tooth and gum disease along with pregnancy complications.

Usually dieters experience weight-loss consisting of about 70% fat and 30% LBM. It is commonly believed that eating extra protein while dieting can help reduce the loss of LBM. However, after 28 weeks, both groups lost a similar amount of weight and the difference in LBM loss was within one pound.

Griesel adds, “The number one purpose of weight-loss should always be improved health. This study demonstrates that too much protein mitigates a critical health benefit that normally comes with weight-loss and the practice should therefore be avoided. We see no evidence of protein deficiency here in the West and studies of long-lived groups of people consistently show the percentage of dietary protein to be 10-15 percent of total calories.”

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