Most of us have either done the South Beach Diet, Zone Diet or Atkins, or have known somebody who has tried a high protein diet. According to the International Food Council Foundation, a high percentage of women who eat more protein do not only avoid weight gain, but also report weight loss.

The International Food Information Council Foundation says that approximately half of all consumers are interested in increasing their dietary protein intake – 37% are convinced that they can lose weight more easily with a high protein diet.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota and Northwestern Health Sciences University wrote about a new study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (May/June 2013 issue).

Senior author, Noel Aldrich Ph.D., and team surveyed a nationally-representative sample of 1,824 women aged from 40 to 60 years. They had set out to describe perceptions about protein sources and requirements, find out how often mid-life women reported using the “eating more protein” practice to maintain their body weight, and compare “reported protein intake to reported frequency of using the ‘eating more protein’ practice to prevent weight gain”.

Most of the women surveyed were able to correctly identify good sources of protein, as well as indicate what percentage of their dietary energy should come from protein.

Over half of all the obese women and 43% of the women overall in the study ate more protein to prevent weight gain.

Dr. Aldrich added that the participants who said they lost weight with “eating more protein” had a dietary protein intake similar to what is recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

Aldrich said:

“Education regarding dietary protein requirements may enhance the use of this practice. Women may need more information regarding protein energy content and effective selection of protein sources to enhance protein intake as a weight management strategy.

Given that the majority of Americans are overweight, identifying the most effective practices and related factors surrounding successful weight loss and prevention of weight gain are important.”

Dong Dou Fu (tofu)
Tofu. Many high protein foods can come from plants. There is a wide choice

Rather than focusing on diet first and then exercise, something many weight-loss programs promote, you should do both at the same time for best effects, according to a study carried out by a team form Stanford University School of Medicine, California, USA.

Professor Abby King and team, who wrote about their research in Annals of Behavioral Medicine, explained that it is particularly useful to start diet and exercise simultaneously if you want to lose weight properly.

If you really can only start with one, King added, you should consider doing the physical activity first.

Written by Christian Nordqvist