Is more protein the answer?

For my PhD, I am doing a rotation through two different labs.  The first one is with the Nutrition, Fitness, and Aging lab headed by Dr. Wayne Campbell.  Super guy!  Super great lab!

Our first project is to look at the issue of high protein diets from the angle of more is better and will help with weight loss and weight maintenance and also the angle of a normal protein diet is just fine, calories in and calories out are what really matters. 

After hearing about the Atkins Diet and The Zone Diet, it’s hard not to wonder if bumping up your protein level might help.  So far what I can say is:  yes and no.

The AMDR for protein is 10%-35% of total caloric intake.  This means that if you eat a 2000 calorie diet, you should consume 200calories (10%) to 700 calories (35%) from protein.  For every gram of protein you eat  there are 4 calories.  So this boils the above down to 50g – 175g of protein a day for a 2000 calorie diet.  That’s a big range! 

Here are a few points about why getting enough or more protein may be a good thing:

-Protein is the most satiating nutrient.  This means it helps us to feel full and satisfied after we eat it, and it keeps us satiated for longer than fat or carbohydrates.  This is a great thing when you are trying to lose weight or even for weight maintenance.

-Eating a higher protein diet may help to preserve lean body tissue during weight loss and during weight maintenance.  This means that eating more protein could help you to lose more fat mass and possibly preserve muscle. 

-If you exercise, protein is needed to help repair muscle after an intense workout.  When exercise exceeds 1 hour that seems to be when protein is really essential.  Having enough protein afterward can help to speed up muscle recovery and repair muscle damage. 

Just to Note: My Medical Nutrition Therapy Book by Mahan and Escott-Stump states that a high protein diet is one that exceeds 100 g per day. 


So what does this all boil down to?  You’re probably saying: “Melissa please tell me how much protein I should eat”.  And, I’m sorry to say that I can’t.  However I would recommend not getting below 10% of daily calories coming from protein. 

Here’s what I do.  I usually like to eat foods that make me feel full and feel full for awhile.  My Chobani greek yogurt, all natural peanut butter, and hard boiled eggs are all high protein foods that allow me to feel satiated while also providing other nutrients that I need (such as calcium, monounsaturated fats, and B vitamins). 

Word of advice:  Don’t go snatching up a whole slab of bacon and eating a hamburger for dinner every night because you think you need more protein.  Choose high protein foods that are also rich in other nutrients.  Check out "How to Read a Nutrition Label” before heading to the grocery store.

Here’s some great sites to visit for recipes or more info about this subject:

Allie’s Eggy Oats (YUM!)

Weighing in on Protein by Runner’s World

Post-Workout Snacks by FitnessMagazine


Quote to Leave you With:

“Weekends are a bit like rainbows; they look good from a distance but disappear when you get up close to them. “
John Shirley

Happy Labor Day Weekend!


About Melissa @ Eat on the Run

Hi Gang! I'm Melissa and I'm blogging at I'm a RD2Be and am pursuing a career in nutrition and fitness. I hope to bring you lots of information and tips to make your life healthier and happier. Please join me on this journey! View all posts by Melissa @ Eat on the Run

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