Scientists believe that obesity may be an issue due to low levels of protein in Western diets. People who do not get enough protein end up eating more fat and carbohydrates, which both lead to weight gain. Those who would like to lose weight are encouraged to eat more eggs, meat and fish.
Researchers found that over the past 60 years protein levels have decreased considerably. People now eat more carbohydrates and fats to get the energy they need, but the body prioritizes protein. Professor David Raubenheimer, nutritional ecologist at the University of Sydney, believes that the diet needs to include more protein to “satisfy our appetite.”
The news that obesity may be linked to low protein may help understand how high-protein diets are so successful. Many people who follow diets like the Atkin’s Diet lose weight quickly and keep it off for the long term. The Atkin’s Diet cuts out all carbohydrates, including those in fruit, to start with and then gradually includes them again. However, the carbohydrates are limited throughout the diet, as the focus is getting healthy meats and other sources of protein.
Weight Watchers is another diet that focuses more on protein and fiber than eating carbohydrates and fats, although the latter two are not eliminated completely. After new research, the points system was overhauled in 2011 to introduce the new points plus (and propoints in the UK). The changes were due to a new understanding on how the body breaks down different foods, and jumped onto the idea that obesity may be an issue due to low protein diets.
Raubenheimer has stated that protein is certainly not the only reason for weight gain. In fact, cutting out carbohydrates is not healthy. The body needs a balance of everything, otherwise other health problems could arise.
The researchers also found that humans were not the only ones that needed a balanced diet. Baboons and spider monkeys were observed to see how they foraged for food. Protein is an important part and the creatures will ensure that they get the right amount, even when the season makes it difficult.
Protein is important for the body for more reasons than curbing obesity. Various parts of the body are made up of protein, including the nails and hair. It is also used for the repairing and building of tissues, and helps to make certain chemicals within the body. This nutrient cannot be stored by the body, so it is even more important to get it in the diet on a daily basis.
The research into the right balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats is still underway. Scientists need to work out how an imbalance affects the body, and the best amount of all three to get for optimum performance.
When it comes to weight loss while protein is important Raubenheimer suggested following a healthy diet. It is important to cut down on the processed foods and eat more natural, organic ones. This will help to get the best types of carbohydrates and get enough protein on a daily basis. The research currently suggests that obesity may be an issue due to low protein diets.
By Alexandria Ingham