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High-Protein Meals Can Help the Overweight Burn Fat

December 11, 2008 | 68,716 views

protein, fat, overweight, weight loss, obesity, atkinsHigher-protein meals may help overweight and obese people burn more fat.

A new study found that overweight men and women burned more post-meal fat when they ate a high-protein breakfast and lunch than when they had lower-protein meals. The added protein seemed to modify the fat-burning deficit seen in heavy individuals.

A number of studies have suggested that high-protein diets may help people shed weight more easily.


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

That a higher protein diet helps burn more fat is not a new finding. A number of prior studies have reached the same conclusion and I’ve promoted increased protein intake, combined with reduced grain and sugar consumption for weight control since the late 1990s.

I firmly believe it’s very important to eat some protein with every meal, as protein is the most satiating type of food, beating out carbohydrates and even healthy fat.

Simply speaking, eating protein keeps you feeling full longer, which will naturally help quench overeating or snacking on less healthy foods.

But that’s where the simplicity ends, and where most studies fail to follow through.

Because the amount, and type, of protein that you need varies dramatically according to your gender, height, weight, exercise levels, and, most importantly, by your nutritional type, which is now a rapidly emerging field.  

Unfortunately, many are still unaware of nutritional typing and how it can completely revolutionize your overall health, and help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. 

How Much Protein Do You Need? – It All Depends… 

Though everyone certainly needs protein, regardless of their current weight, you have individualized requirements for it. Once you determine whether you’re a protein, carb, or mixed nutritional type, you can decipher your personal requirements.

For example, a strong carbohydrate type could easily feel stuffed for many hours on a meatless salad with a no-fat dressing, while the same meal would have a strong protein type craving more food in twenty minutes or so. 

Protein types, as the name implies, do better on low-carbohydrate, high-protein and high-fat diets.  

A typical ratio might be 40 percent protein and 30 percent each of fats and carbohydrates, but the amounts could easily shift to 50 percent fats and as little as 10 percent carbohydrates depending on your individual genetic requirements.

Protein types are also the folks who generally do well on the Atkins diet, and make up the bulk of his major success stories.  

One caveat though is that you need to be cautious about consuming high levels of protein if you have impaired kidney function. This issue may contribute to some complications of a strict high-protein diet such as Atkins. 

When food is cooked there is a significant change in the structure of the proteins. This change can alter them into a more toxic product that may cause kidney damage.  This can, however, be largely moderated by consuming far more of your protein in its raw state. This is certainly the case for eggs.  

Meanwhile, carbohydrate types normally feel best when the majority of their food is vegetable carbohydrate. Yet they, too, still need some protein and fat in their diets.  

Mixed types fall somewhere in between and their ratios will likely be more evenly distributed between carbs, protein, and healthy fats.

A Special Note About Cutting Carbs to Lose Weight

Increasing your protein intake and cutting down on carbs is certainly a step in the right direction for most people. In my experience, most people don’t eat enough protein and far too many carbohydrates.

But there is a considerable amount of misunderstanding when it comes to "carb" restriction. By definition, a low-carb diet is actually a low-grain diet.

Most people believe that low carb is the way to lose weight, when in reality about one-third of them are carb types who actually need a high-carb diet to shed excess pounds.

The only difference, of course, is that those carbs need to be in the form of vegetables rather than grains. Eating carbs in the form of vegetables may increase your carb intake, but will not be a hindrance to your health goals like the carbohydrates from grains.

Protein is Protein, Right?

Not so fast. The type of protein that your body thrives on will also vary according to your nutritional type.  

Protein types, for instance, thrive on high-purine meats like dark-meat chicken or high-quality steak, while carb types fare better with light meats or even beans as their source of protein.

So in addition to determining how much protein you need, knowing your nutritional type will also guide you to eat the best type of protein for your individual biochemistry and metabolism. 

What You Should Look For When Selecting Your Protein Sources 

Once you’ve determined your optimal protein/carb/fat ratio, and what types of protein your body needs for optimal health, then selecting “healthy foods” and creating your meals becomes less of a mystery. 

Some generally good sources of protein include:

  • Eggs (ideally raw and free-range, organic)
  • Grass-fed beef and bison
  • Free-range, organic chicken and ostrich
  • Raw dairy products (raw milk,  cheese, yogurt, kefir, etc)
  • Wild-caught, mercury-free fish (only eat this if you can confirm via lab-testing that it’s not polluted)

When choosing protein sources, it’s extremely important to find high-quality varieties.

These would be grass-fed (not grain-fed) organic meats, raw (not pasteurized) dairy products, and wild-caught (not farm-raised) fish that you KNOW is not contaminated with mercury and other pollutants.

While protein is extremely healthy, you will not be doing yourself a favor by eating grain-fed beef (which is the most widely available in supermarkets), pesticide-laced chicken, or mercury-rich fish, so please pay careful attention to the sources of your protein, and how they’re raised.

What About Protein Powders? 

I’m not a fan of most protein powders on the market, as many contain inferior sources of protein, such as GM soy protein, along with artificial sweeteners and flavors.  

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