If you find yourself snacking less than ideally or racking up calories later in the day, it may not just be cravings for more food. Your body may need protein, according to a new study.
The study, which was published in the journal Obesity involved an analysis of data from the National Survey of Nutrition and Physical Activity, which took place between May 2011 and June 2012. Considering the dietary and physical habits of 9,341 adults with a mean age of 46.3 years, scientists from the University of Sydney found that the energy intake of the participants’ diets was generally made up of 30.9% fat, 43.5% carbohydrates, 18.4% protein, 4.3% alcohol, and 2, 2% fiber.
Those behind the study also found that participants who didn’t eat as much protein at breakfast (or their first daily meal) ate more during the rest of the day than participants who ate more protein earlier. Those who ate a high-protein breakfast also ended up eating less as the day progressed.
The researchers also discovered that the Participants who didn’t eat enough protein early in the day ended up eating not only more calories throughout the day, but also ate more foods high in fat, sugar, and salt; consumed more alcohol; and ate less healthy foods such as cereals, vegetables, legumes, fruits, dairy products, and meats.
The researchers found that one of the reasons study participants were not consuming adequate levels of protein was likely due to a high intake of processed foods. This high intake of low-quality processed foods crowds out protein foods that promote satiety, curb overconsumption of calorie-poor, nutrient-poor foods, and reduce the risk of obesity.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that our bodies eat to meet a protein goal,” he said. Professor David Raubenheimer, the Leonard Ullmann Chair in Nutritional Ecology in the School of Environmental and Life Sciences and one of the study’s authors, told EurekAlert! “But the problem is that foods in Western diets have less and less protein. Therefore, you need to consume more to reach your protein goal, which effectively raises your daily energy intake.”
Primary author Dr. Amanda Grechpostdoctoral researcher at the Charles Perkins Center at the University of Sydney and the university’s School of Environmental and Life Sciences, also noted: “As people consume more junk food or highly processed and refined foods, they dilute their dietary protein and increase the risk of becoming overweight and obese, which we know increases the risk of chronic disease.”
When Eat this, not that! I talk to Kylene Bogden, RDFWDfuel co-founder, Pureboost ambassador, and nutritionist for the Cleveland Cavaliers, told us she wasn’t surprised by the results.
“These findings are incredibly accurate,” says Bogden. “Many of us consume processed foods multiple times a day, day after day, leading to chronic inflammation and nutrient deficiencies. When our bodies are chronically inflamed and plagued with deficiencies, we can experience fatigue, strong sugar cravings, and an inability to lose weight.”
When it comes to how foods high in protein, fat, and carbohydrates affect your body differently, as well as why the latter two can potentially lead to obesity, Bogden notes that “simply breaking down protein burns the most calories, fat comes second.” , and carbohydrates come in third place.” She says that “part of this slower digestion process is also that adequate protein intake is necessary for optimal blood sugar control and stable blood sugar makes weight loss a smoother process.” .