Protein diets, hormones and weight loss

January 25, 2008

Despite much of the adverse publicity the Atkins’ Diet has received over the last year, for many people the proof is in the pudding – or in this case lack of it. One thing about Atkins that people consistently say is that they definitely lose weight and now there may be some scientific proof of why that is the case.

Atkins is based on a high-protein and low-carbohydrate diet and now a study at the University of Washington, reported in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, explains why protein is so effective for weight loss.

It seems that proteins are better at suppressing the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin than carbohydrates and lipids, and this means you feel more satisfied with less food. Ghrelin is thought to influence hunger around mealtime, the researchers said, because levels increase before meals and are suppressed once you start eating. The study also showed that although carbohydrate intake also initially suppressed ghrelin levels, it did not last and ghrelin levels quickly returned to above their baseline values.

This bears out what many Atkins fans claim, that they get hungrier quicker if they switch to more carbohydrate than protein in their diets. However, whatever diet you follow please ensure it contains all the essential nutrients and if in doubt check with your doctor or a qualified nutritionist.


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