Protein for Weight Loss

eggs1In the 40 years that I have spent in the fitness world, one group of athletes above others demonstrates an incredible ability to control their weight. Whether they want to gain but more likely lose body fat. Bodybuilders are very detailed oriented as to how their bodies appear. So when it comes to weight loss can there be a lesson learned? For years the bodybuilder trainers that I have been around can often be heard telling their clients to increase their protein. Including at breakfast time.  So why aren’t we listening to the ones who have perfected their craft of changing their body fat levels? Let’s look at some research.

University of Missouri researchers have found that eating a breakfast high in protein reduces hunger throughout the day. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) they found that a protein-rich breakfast reduces the brain signals that control food motivation and reward-eating behavior. Heather Leidy, assistant professor in the MU Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology assessed physiological hunger and satiety by measuring perceived appetite sensations and hormonal markers using fMRI to identify brain activation in specific regions.

In a study presented at the 2007 Experimental Biology meeting, researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center compared weight loss in two groups of women. One group ate two eggs for breakfast and the other group had a bagel. Both breakfast meals were identical in calories and volume. “Compared to the bagel eaters, overweight women who ate two eggs for breakfast five times a week for eight weeks as part of a low-fat, reduced-calorie diet, lost 65% more weight.” Reports researcher Nikhil V. Dhurandhar, PhD.

Another study, reported in Obesity Research, found that women who added a little lean protein to their breakfast (a slice of Canadian bacon added to an egg sandwich made with an English muffin) felt less hunger during the next four hours than those who ate a breakfast with no protein.

A report published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition suggests that consuming more protein above the RDA improves adult weight loss. Two groups were followed. One used the dietary recommendations as defined by the USDA Food Guide Pyramid. The other group was given as much as 30-33grams of protein for breakfast. After using these diets for ten weeks, the group that consumed the higher protein meals lost more weight, more body fat and less lean muscle mass.

It is important to note that lean muscle mass is more metabolically active, which then helps with weight management.

Now don’t mistake these reports to say no carbs. All of these groups that were followed had carbohydrates as part of their meals as well. What they did, as noted is increase the amount of protein they consumed. So it’s not about taking carbs out of your diet completely. But what appears to be working here is changing the ratio of carbs to protein by increasing the amount of protein.

So what do you say? What are you having for breakfast? How can you increase your levels of protein?

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