High-protein diets have never been more popular, buoyed by scientific research suggesting they promote weight loss and enhance overall health, the Washington Post reported.
Corporate America has responded to the call for "protein power" by adding protein to granola bars, yogurt and cereal, as consumers clamor for substantive fare over diet foods. Amazingly, there has been a 54 spike in the number of new high-protein food products since 2008, according to Chicago research firm Mintel.
Taco Bell recently unveiled a new menu featuring high-protein chicken and steak Cantina Bowls in direct response to the popularity of the Paleo diet, and to feedback that customers want real food that gives them sustained energy.
“People are not looking for diet food,” said Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol. “What they are looking for is food that gives them energy, food that’s going to give them protein.”
The Paleo diet emphasizes high-quality animal proteins, healthy fats, non-starchy vegetables, and excludes gluten, sugar, alcohol, dairy, legumes, and processed foods.
Technically, Paleo is not high-protein, or necessarily low-carb, although it's lower in carbs and higher in protein than the standard American diet, which has proven a dismal failure for promoting optimal health.
Study: High-Protein Diets Better Than Low-Fat Diets For Weight Loss
Protein has never been more popular, thanks to scientific research supporting its usefulness as a weight-loss tool. According to a study from the University of Sydney, high-protein diets like the Paleo diet are better for weight loss than low-fat, low-calorie diets because they effectively suppress appetite.
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.
Celebrities Hop on Low-Carb Paleo Bandwagon
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 low-carb 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."
Celebrities have also hopped on the high-protein, low-carb Paleo bandwagon. Country superstar Tim McGraw credits Paleo and CrossFit for his eye-popping 40-pound weight loss. Similarly, Joe Manganiello credits the combination of Paleo and CrossFit for his insanely ripped physique. For now, the popularity of the low-carb Paleo diet and the high-protein movement continues unabated.