High-protein diets like the Paleo diet are better for weight loss than low-calorie diets, according to a new study from the University of Sydney. Scientists said their research suggests a high protein diet enhances weight loss by suppressing appetite and making you feel full, longer.
Nutritional ecologist David Raubenheimer said the findings could have important implications for combating obesity, which is a global epidemic.
"We can use this information to help manage and prevent obesity, through ensuring that the diets we eat have a sufficient level of protein to satisfy our appetite," said Raubenheimer, who led the study.
Raubenheimer, a professor at the University of Sydney, said it's not surprising obesity has soared during the past 60 years, as protein has become a smaller part of our diets, and carb intake has soared.
Raubenheimer and his team found that baboons who consumed a high-protein diet maintained their weight even when they ate more calories, underscoring the weight loss benefits of protein.
High-Protein Diets Boost Metabolism, Preserve Lean Muscle Mass
The latest study confirms similar research published in the biology journal, FASEB, which monitored 39 adults on a calorie-restricted diet with varying levels of protein.
After 31 days, the group that consumed twice the recommended daily amount of protein lost more weight than the low-protein group while maintaining lean muscle mass.
Professor Raubenheimer concluded by saying the best diet is similar to the Paleo diet: One that limits processed junk and focuses on whole foods.
"A simple rule for healthy eating is to avoid processed foods – the closer to real foods the better," he said. "Our bodies and appetites are not adapted to biscuits, cakes, pizzas and sugary drinks, and we eat too much of them at our peril."
High-Protein Paleo Diet Twice as Effective for Weight Loss, Melting Belly Fat
Meanwhile, the low-carb, high-protein Paleo diet is soaring among fitness-conscious celebrities, including Robin Wright, Megan Fox, and Tim McGraw (who credits Paleo for his eye-popping 40-pound weight loss).
The Paleo diet emphasizes high-quality animal proteins, healthy fats, low-starch vegetables and fruits, and excludes gluten, sugar, dairy, legumes, alcohol and processed foods. Proponents say the Paleo diet promotes weight loss, and prevents diabetes, cancer, heart disease, depression, and even Alzheimer's.
A recent study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated the Paleo diet is twice as effective for weight loss, reducing belly fat, and controlling diabetes than a low-fat diet — which has long been considered the gold standard for diets.
The two-year study tracked 70 overweight, post-menopausal women who were assigned either a low-fat diet or a low-carb (higher-fat, higher-protein) Paleo diet.
Study participants were measured for weight, cholesterol and blood sugars after six months on their respective diets, and again after two years. The results showed the Paleo dieters lost significantly more weight (14 pounds) compared to the low-fat dieters (5.7 pounds).
What's more, the Paleo dieters lost four inches from their waists after six months, compared to just two inches for the low-fat dieters. In previous studies, the high-protein Paleo diet has routinely beaten low-fat diets at controlling cholesterol and diabetes.
The results are noteworthy because older women — especially those who are post-menopausal — generally have a hard time losing weight, especially from their mid-sections, due to slower metabolisms and hormone disruptions.