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Control calories and eat a healthy balance of protein, carbs, and fats

No doubt about it, protein is good for you -- and can even help you shed those unwanted pounds. But (and you knew there was a "but," right?), it's important to eat the right amount and the right kind of protein to get the lifelong weight-loss results you want.

The study featured in "Why Do High-Protein Diets Work?" sheds additional light on the promising trend towards increasing the amount of protein in weight-loss diets. And that's just one of many protein-friendly studies released this year.

In the February issue of the Journal of Nutrition, researchers at the University of Illinois reported that moderately high protein diets -- 0.73 grams of protein per pound of body weight -- enhanced weight loss and preserved muscle mass better than lower-protein diets.

And University of Tennessee researchers reported in the January issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that eating three servings per day of low-fat dairy products (another source of protein) also aids weight loss. Why do diets moderately high in protein work? The higher protein helps keep hunger at bay and, as a result, helps you stick with your weight-loss diet.

But it's important to "read the fine print," too. All of these weight-loss studies controlled the total calories consumed to 1,340 - 1,700 calories per day, and the diets included plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while keeping the protein and dairy sources lean and low in fat. No food groups were restricted.

The underlying take-home message from these recent studies? We each have special nutrition needs, so certain people may lose more weight on a diet that pumps up the protein and lowers the carbs -- others may not. The WebMD Weight Loss Clinic supports this tailored-diet philosophy, and gives members the option to find the right diet fit within healthy ranges.

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