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Why Do High-Protein Diets Work?

Lose more weight when you eat lean, red meat

Who Lost More Weight? continued...

"You can lose weight in lots of different ways," Noakes says. "But certain people might do better on a certain dietary pattern with less carbohydrates, more protein. They will feel less hungry, be able to tolerate eating less for longer periods of time. We find that's generally true of high-protein diets."

Whether or not you have high triglyceride levels in your blood, this type of red meat, high-protein diet might work for you, she adds. "It's whether or not a particular pattern suits you. A high-carbohydrate diet -- rice, pasta, fruit, vegetables -- hasn't always worked for people. There are lots of strategies to lose weight, and this is one of them."

"Younger women may be especially interested in the high-protein diet, since it has lots of calcium and iron, and provides lots of micronutrients," Noakes adds. "We believe that a higher-protein pattern is more nutrient rich and may in fact be a diet of choice for women who are trying to lose weight."

Noakes' high-protein diet is certainly healthy, says Kathleen Zelman, RD, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA). In fact, the carbohydrates, protein, and fats in both diets that Noakes tested are within approved ranges set by the ADA and the National Academy of Sciences, she tells WebMD.

"We're not talking Atkins," says Zelman. "These are within normal limits."

Other studies have documented the effectiveness of increasing protein, she tells WebMD. Protein works partly because it makes us feel full. Also, studies have shown that high protein and fewer carbohydrates work well together in terms of weight loss.

Bottom line: Eat fewer refined carbohydrates -- table sugar, baked goods, white bread, pasta -- and more fruits and vegetables, says Zelman. Eat lots of lean protein -- sirloin steak, flank steak, chicken, eggs, tofu, and fish.

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