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Lean Protein Can Reduce Hunger

There is growing evidence of the power of lean protein, like lean meat, fish, poultry, soybeans, and eggs, to help with fullness and weight loss.

"You are most likely to feel fuller after eating protein than other nutrients, including fiber, and one of the theories behind why higher-protein diets work well with weight loss is because it helps you not feel hungry," says Purdue University nutrition professor Wayne Campbell, PhD.

Two recent studies from Purdue demonstrate the satisfying nature of lean protein. In one study, female participants who took in about 30% of their calories from lean protein felt more satisfied and maintained muscle mass better than another group that ate less protein.

"We found that an additional 20-30 grams of protein or a 3-4 ounce portion of lean protein was enough to influence appetite," says Campbell. "We have also shown that when diets are inadequate in the amount of protein and don't meet national recommendations, desire to eat increases."

His suggestion: To keep calories in check, have higher-protein foods in place of other foods. For example, choose a glass of skim or low-fat milk instead of drinking a sweetened beverage, and you'll take in 8 extra grams of protein.

You can add lean protein at any meal, but research has shown that adding it to your breakfast may be especially helpful.

In a study presented at the 2007 Experimental Biology meeting, researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center compared weight loss in dieters who ate either two eggs or a bagel for breakfast. The two breakfast meals were identical in calories and volume, but the egg breakfast was much higher in protein.

"Compared to the bagel eaters, overweight women who ate two eggs for breakfast five times a week for eight weeks, as part of a low-fat, reduced-calorie diet, lost 65% more weight, reduced waist circumference by 83%, reported higher energy levels, and had no significant difference in their ... bloodcholesterol or triglyceride levels," reports researcher Nikhil V. Dhurandhar, PhD.

"When people eat eggs, rich in protein, at breakfast, they felt more satisfied and consumed fewer calories throughout the day, compared to those who ate a primarily carbohydrate meal like a bagel."

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