New Research Highlights Health Benefits of High… | The Paleo Diet®
noun_Search_345985 Created with Sketch.
noun_Search_345985 Created with Sketch.

The latest from The Paleo Diet®, just for you.

Hot topics, new recipes, and science

New Research Highlights Health Benefits of High Protein Diets

By Christopher Clark
May 22, 2015
New Research Highlights Health Benefits of High Protein Diets image

There’s no such thing as an inherently high protein diet. What we commonly call high protein diets are simply diets containing more protein than those recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Institute of Medicine (IOM), and other institutions. But institutions, of course, can and have been wrong. We have seen this, for example, with respect to trans fats, dietary cholesterol, and other important areas of nutrition. So what if so-called high protein diets are actually an optimal-protein and what if the diets recommended by the aforementioned institutions are actually suboptimal? A new study, recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggests this could be the case, particularly for those who are trying to lose weight.

The WHO and IOM recommend 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight for both men and women daily.1 For a 175 pound man, this equates to 64 grams of protein per day, and for a 125 pound woman, 45 grams of protein per day. The new study, however, published by researchers from the University of Missouri, suggests that 1.2 to 1.6 grams/day is the optimal range. Lead researcher Heather Leidy and her colleagues reviewed the scientific literature on protein consumption and concluded that moderately increased protein, consumed in a balanced way throughout the day, has significant benefits, including improvements in appetite, body weight management, and cardiometabolic risk factors.2

When and how?

According to this research, daily protein should be somewhat evenly distributed across breakfast, lunch and dinner. “Eating a protein-rich breakfast,” Leidy explained, “containing about 30 grams of protein leads to even greater satiety throughout the day and can reduce unhealthy snacking by improving appetite control.”3 Some people might struggle to consume this much protein at breakfast, but it’s much easier than you might think. Four to five eggs would get you there, but don’t assume that eggs are your only breakfast option. It’s only a matter of getting into the habit of treating breakfast just like any other meal. Beef, lamb, chicken, and fish, for example, are all suitable for breakfast.

Leidy also stresses that animal proteins, unlike most plant proteins, are high quality and “complete” because they contain all essential amino acids (EAA) and are easily digestible, whereas individual-source plant proteins lack certain EAAs and are harder to digest. Some people might worry about adverse side effects from consuming protein at the 1.6 gr per kg upper limit. These worries, however, are unfounded. For example, a 2004 review of the scientific literature found no adverse effects on liver or kidney function for protein consumption as high as 2.4 gr per kg, or 3 times the IOM’s benchmark level.4

With nearly two-thirds of Americans either overweight or obese, perhaps it’s time to start rethinking what’s “normal” and “optimal” with respect to protein consumption. Higher-protein diets are sometimes ridiculed or portrayed as dangerous, but the scientific literature says otherwise. By following the Paleo Diet, which of course eliminates refined sugar and cereals, you’ll naturally be consuming increased quantities of protein in the 1.2 to 1.6 gr per kg range. You won’t need to make any calculations. If you’re trying to lose weight and just getting started with Paleo, focus on protein, particularly during breakfast and lunch.

References

[1] Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. 2002. Dietary Reference Intakes. National Academies Press.

[2] Leidy, JH. (April 29, 2015). The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, [Epub ahead of print].

[3] University of Missouri-Columbia. (2015, April 30). Busy Americans can reap health benefits by balancing protein intake throughout the day. ScienceDaily.

[4] Manninen, A. (2004). High-Protein Weight Loss Diets and Purported Adverse Effects: Where is the Evidence? Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition, 1(1).

Even More Articles For You

Is Red Meat Bad For You? New Study Says No
“The potentially unhealthful effects of eating red meat are so small that they may be of little clinical significance for many people.”
By Bill Manci
Recipe: Spicy Salmon with Avocado and Yams
Spicy salmon with avocado and yams balances your omega-3 intake with healthful fats. Nothing beats a little heat to ring in the sizzling summer season.
By The Paleo Diet® Team
The Endurance Training Dilemma – High vs. Low-Carb
Interested in learning more about endurance training on the Paleo Diet? Read The Paleo Diet® blog to find the latest Paleo news, Paleo recipes & more!
By Dr. Marc Bubbs
Paleo Leadership
 
Trevor Connor
Trevor Connor

Dr. Loren Cordain’s final graduate student, Trevor Connor, M.S., brings more than a decade of nutrition and physiology expertise to spearhead the new Paleo Diet team.

Mark J Smith
Dr. Mark Smith

One of the original members of the Paleo movement, Mark J. Smith, Ph.D., has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the benefits of Paleo nutrition.

Nell Stephenson
Nell Stephenson

Ironman athlete, mom, author, and nutrition blogger Nell Stephenson has been an influential member of the Paleo movement for over a decade.

Loren Cordain
Dr. Loren Cordain

As a professor at Colorado State University, Dr. Loren Cordain developed The Paleo Diet® through decades of research and collaboration with fellow scientists around the world.