Low Protein Diets May Cause Overeating
Studies have found that those who eat foods that are low in protein tend to consume more fats and carbohydrates to satisfy hunger and to meet the body’s demands for energy. Because fats and carbohydrates are among the most available and inexpensive food types, for many people they provide a convenient means to give their bodies fuel, but this practice can lead to excessive and unnecessary weight gain.
The body mainly derives its energy from three sources:
When the body does not get enough protein, it can create a drive to consume excessive energy. In diets that are only 10% protein or less, the overall energy intake from other sources is substantially higher than in diets that are 15% or more protein. Research has found that 15% to 25% protein intake seems to be the optimal level.
Participants were divided into three groups and given diets that consisted of either 10%, 15% or 25% protein and 60%, 55% or 45% carbohydrates, and all had 30% fat intake. 70% of the energy consumed did not come from meals, but from snacks that participants chose to eat.
Findings from the Study
The study showed that eating a diet that is 15% or more protein reduced the intake of fats and carbohydrates. The fat to protein ratio has significant implications for energy consumption and weight. The less protein that is consumed, the more inclined the body is to crave fats and carbohydrates and the more likely it is that excessive amounts will be consumed, thus promoting weight gain and possibly obesity.
The study also found that participants’ hunger levels were more or less the same for all diets, though those who had the 10% protein diets experienced increased hunger in a shorter amount time after breakfast compared with those who were on the 15% and 25% protein diets.
The body requires more fats and carbohydrates than should be necessary in order to compensate for low levels of protein. Therefore it is important to consume adequate amounts of protein every day. This will limit fat and carbohydrate intake and help to maintain a healthy weight.