More protein intake when dieting correlates to healthier eating: Study

28 June, 2022 | Vaishali Sharma

Calorie-restricted diets frequently cause dieters to limit their consumption of healthful foods containing micronutrients such as iron and zinc.

A recent Rutgers study found that eating extra protein when dieting helps to minimise lean body mass loss and leads to better dietary choices.

The outcomes of the study were published in the journal Obesity. A Rutgers University research using pooled data from multiple weight-loss trials found that increasing the quantity of protein even modestly, from 18% to 20% of a person’s food consumption, had a substantial affect on the quality of the person’s meal choices. Obesity is a medical publication that published the findings of this investigation.

“It’s somewhat remarkable that a self-selected, slightly higher protein intake during dieting is accompanied by a higher intake of green vegetables and a lower intake of refined grains and added sugar,” said Sue Shapses, study author and professor of nutritional sciences at Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS). “But that’s exactly what we discovered.”

Furthermore, the researchers discovered that a significantly increased protein consumption gave additional benefit to dieters: a decreased loss of lean body mass, which is commonly connected with weight reduction.

Calorie-restricted diets frequently cause dieters to limit their consumption of healthful foods containing micronutrients such as iron and zinc.

Higher protein intake is frequently associated with healthier outcomes, but the relationship between protein intake and food quality is poorly understood, according to experts.

“The influence of self-selected dietary protein on diet quality has not been studied before, to our knowledge,” said Anna Ogilvie, research co-author and doctorate student in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers SEBS. “Exploring the relationship between protein intake and food quality is relevant since diet quality in the United States is frequently inadequate, and higher-protein weight reduction programmes are popular.”

The information was gathered from more than 200 men and women who took part in clinical studies at Rutgers that were supported by the National Institutes of Health during the last two decades.

The Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences in Washington, D.C. financed the investigation of food records and diet quality for this study. Participants ranged in age from 24 to 75 years old and had a BMI that classified them as overweight or obese. Over a six-month period, all participants were encouraged to lose weight by adopting a 500-calorie-deficit diet and met monthly for nutrition advice and support.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Diabetes Association provided nutrition guidance to the participants. They were instructed to eat lean protein, such as chicken, unprocessed red meat, fish, legumes, and dairy, and to spend the rest of their calories on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They were advised not to consume saturated fats, processed carbohydrates, sugar, or salt.

Participants kept thorough food records, which researchers assessed for diet quality, particular food categories and ratios, and specific protein sources.

Researchers classified the individuals who self-selected their protein intake into two groups: those who consumed 18 percent of their total calories from protein and those who consumed 20 percent of their total food intake from protein.

According to the study’s findings:

Over six months, both the low-protein and high-protein groups lost the same amount of weight – roughly 5% of their body weight. Individuals in the higher-protein categories ate a variety of healthier meals overall. Individuals in the higher protein group consumed more green vegetables and consumed less sugar and processed carbohydrates. Individuals in the higher protein group were better able to keep their lean muscle mass.