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The Benefits of Protein

Beef up your knowledge of protein and good dietary sources.

The (Short-Term) Case for High Protein Diets continued...

"There is some evidence that high-protein diets induce great fat loss," Hu told the symposium audience. On average, high-protein diets produced an average weight loss that was about 4.5 lbs greater than that achieved on other diets after six months.

"Most of the studies show results for up to six months, but after six months they begin to lose effectiveness, either because people do not adhere to this diet very well in the long term, or because they get used to this diet biologically," Hu tells WebMD. "So in the long term the high-protein diets tend to lose their ability to maintain the weight."

Choose Your Proteins Wisely

The type of protein you eat may play a role in successful weight loss and in your overall health.

Consumption of large quantities of processed meats such as hot dogs, sausages, and deli meats, have been linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colorectal cancer, Hu says. You'll have a harder time maintaining weight loss if you eat these proteins often, and you may be damaging your body.

 

Hu and other nutrition experts recommend getting dietary proteins from the following sources:

  • Fish: Fish offers heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and, in general, less fat than meat.

  • Poultry: You can eliminate most of the saturated fat by removing the skin.

  • Beans: Beans contain more protein than any other vegetable protein. Plus, they're loaded with fiber that helps you feel full for hours.

  • Nuts: One ounce of almonds gives you 6 grams of protein, nearly as much protein as one ounce of broiled ribeye steak.

  • Whole grains: A slice of whole wheat bread gives you 3 grams of protein, plus valuable fiber.

 

"A lot of plant-based foods like soy and legumes can give you the same amount of protein as meats. I have nuts for breakfast every day, because they not only give you a lot of protein, but they're healthy sources of fat," Hu says.

So when you decide to cut carbs and boost protein, take Hu's advice: Don't lose sight of the big picture.

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