The Science Behind Losing Weight on a High-Protein Diet

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June 01, 2006 | 10,413 views

A brain signal system that controls appetite responds to specific amino acids found in meat. This discovery could lead to new weight-loss techniques.

Leucine

Animals injected with the amino acid leucine ate 20 percent less food the following day, and only gained a third of the weight of their peers after a 24-hour fast. Leucine, which is found in protein-rich foods, acts on the enzyme mTOR. mTOR is highly active in a brain structure called the hypothalamus, which regulates appetite.

Fooling the Brain

The leucine may fool the brain into believing there is an ample protein supply throughout the body, resulting in a suppression of hunger.

Amino acids are the basic structural building units of proteins. Your body juggles 20 of them to construct nearly every protein in your body.

Evidence is growing about the value of one of the amino acids, leucine, which is found in meat and dairy products. Not only can a leucine-rich diet boost the benefits of exercise, it can help you lose weight too.

Leucine is a branched chain amino acid and is considered essential, which means your body cannot produce it, and therefore it must be consumed through food. Leucine helps you reduce body fat and maintain muscle mass during weight loss.

Many people interested in health do not have a favorable view of meat and believe avoiding meat is very healthy. I believe their is some validity for these concerns as most of the commercial meat is the United States is produced by factory farming methods. If you are not familiar with the major abuses that occur in this system I encourage you to review the excellent New York Times article on this topic.

However, healthy meat can be an excellent source of protein in the diet if you find the right source. Normally I advise pasture-fed cattle and free-range chickens. The best source for finding these would be locally, and many health food stores can help you find it. This way you can avoid shipping charges.

If you are unable to find it locally we do carry grass-fed beef and ostrich and grass-fed bison in our store for your convenience

It is important to recognize, however, that not everyone requires large amounts of protein and fat to lose weight. Actually about one-third of people will actually do worse on this type of program. Carb nutritional types are just not designed to eat much protein, and they do quite well with smaller amounts.

This is why the leucine researchers were quick to note their findings don't explain why some people lose weight with the flawed Atkins Diet, while others do not. For some, consuming leucine-rich foods is a good match for their unique nutritional type.

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