Many individuals seek out high protein foods when dieting because it is commonly believed protein rich meals make the dieters feel fuller. Not surprisingly, this belief had not been tested on a meta-scale. In a new study featured in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, researchers conducted a step-by-step review of evidence on the effect of protein consumed on noticed fullness and validated that Protein does make us fuller.
The recent fad following of low carb, high protein diet can in part be attributed to the fact that individuals often feel fuller when protein consumption is high, even if fewer
calories are consumed overall. “A good deal of evidence suggests that protein activates satiety hormone release and so should be most strongly tied with fullness ratings,” said lead investigator Richard D. Mattes, MPH, PhD., RD, Distinguished Professor, Department of Nutrition Science, Director of Public Health, and Director of the Ingestive Behavior Research Center at Purdue University, “but individual studies are often conducted in small populations or with different approaches that can make interpretation of results challenging. Our study combined multiple experiments to confirm the presence of an effect.”
Researchers used a variety of statistical models to make sense of the data. These included a quantitative meta-analysis and a secondary directional analysis using a vote counting procedure. Both analyses predicted that higher protein loads have a greater effect on satiety than lower protein loads.
With the validation that protein intake is related to satiety, defined as fullness between meals, an incremental higher protein intake should allow individuals to feel fuller between meals. Indeed, while protein may help individuals feel fuller; it is by no means the silver bullet. “Feelings of hunger and fullness are not the only factor that influence intake. We often eat for other reasons. Anyone who has ever felt too full to finish their meal but has room for dessert knows this all too well,” explained Dr. Mattes.
“The exact amount of protein needed to prolong fullness as well as when to consume protein throughout the day is not resolved, and our study did not determine this,” said Heather Leidy, PhD., Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition & Exercise Physiology at the University of Missouri. So while the researchers encourage the public not to consume protein to the point of excess, people looking to moderate their energy intake by enhancing the sensation of fullness might consider a moderate increment in protein consumption as a first step. “Though this study did not specifically evaluate dieters, feeling fuller could help to reduce food intake, an important factor when dieting,” concluded Dr. Mattes. “If these effects are sustained over the long-term – and our study only looked at short-term effects – increased protein intake may aid in the loss or maintenance of body weight.”
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The effects of increased protein intake on fullness: A meta-analysis and its limitations, Jaapna Dhillon, MS, PhD Candidate; Bruce A Craig, PhD; Heather J. Leidy, PhD; Akua F. Amankwaah, MS, PhD Candidate; Katherene Osei-Boadi Anguah, PhD; Ashley Jacobs, MS, RDN, PhD Candidate; Blake L. Jones, PhD; Joshua B. Jones, PhD; Chelsey L. Keeler, MS; Christine E.M. Keller; Megan A. McCrory, PhD; Rebecca L. Rivera, MPH; Maribeth Slebodnik, MLS; Richard D. Mattes, MPH, PhD, RD; and Robin M. Tucker, PhD, RD,Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2016.01.003, published 3 March 2016.
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