Increasing Protein While Dieting Leads to Healthier Eating

People with overweight or obesity often have poor-quality diets that lack the necessary nutrients, with excessive amounts of added sugars and saturated fats and a poor amount of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes. This can lead to a higher risk of chronic disease. 

According to studies, a weight loss of 5 to 10% may prevent chronic disease; however, weight loss diets that restrict energy also reduce ehalthy food and micronutrient intake. 

Recently, a group of researchers evaluated how the change in self-selected protein intake during caloric restriction alters diet quality and lean body mass (LBM). 

Higher Protein Participants Lead to Less Loss of LBM and Healthier Eating Patterns

For the study, the team analyzed data from multiple weight loss trials that included a total of 207 adults with overweight or obesity. They were evaluated before and during the studies for 6 months of caloric restriction. 

The participants were given nutrition advice based on the guidelines of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Diabetes Association. They were encouraged to allot 18 percent of their caloric intake to lean protein, such as unprocessed red meat, fish, poultry, legumes and dairy, and were discouraged from ingesting refined grains, sugar, salt and saturated fats. 

The researchers found that individuals with overweight and obesity improved the quality of their diet more with higher (79 g/day) compared with a lower (58 g/day) protein intake. They also found that a greater protein intake during caloric restriction attenuated loss of lean body mass. 

The researchers also observed that participants in the high protein group tend to choose a mix of healthier foods to eat overall, specifically intake of green vegetables and cut back on sugar and refined grains.. 


Anna R. Ogilvie, Yvette Schlussel, Deeptha Sukumar, Lingqiong Meng, Sue A. Shapses. Higher protein intake during caloric restriction improves diet quality and attenuates loss of lean body mass. Obesity, 2022; DOI: 10.1002/oby.23428 

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