Why Protein is the Key to Fat Loss

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Foods rich in protein provide the key to burning fat, a new study has revealed. The research, which made front-page news around the world, has shown that protein-rich foods, such as meat, chicken, fish and whey protein, are ideal for fighting fat.

Scientists have found that a gut hormone called PYY (short for peptide YY3-36) is released when you eat protein-rich foods. It works simply by fooling your brain into thinking your stomach is full.

“We’ve now found that increasing the protein content of the diet augments the body’s own PYY, helping to reduce hunger and aid weight loss,” says lead author of the study Dr. Rachel Batterham.

One of the issues has been that most of us just aren't eating enough protein. We've been recommending higher consumption of protein for some time, and it was good to see that scientists are discovering the reasons why protein-rich diets help you lose fat faster.

Batterham’s team first looked at what kind of food best satisfies hunger . They studied nine obese men and 10 normal-weight men. After brief fasts, the men ate different meals. Each of the meals - a high-protein meal, a high-fat meal, and a high-carbohydrate meal - had the same number of calories.

All the men said the high-protein meal best satisfied their hunger. Measurements showed the high-protein meal triggered the most PYY in all of the men.

Batterham’s team also genetically engineered a mouse strain that did not have the PYY gene. These mice ate huge amounts of food, and quickly became obese. Normally, obese mice fed a high-protein diet will eat less and lose weight. But a high-protein diet didn’t help the PYY-defective mice lose weight - unless they also got PYY treatments.

So, is it possible to make a pill that contains PYY?

The problem with this idea is that PYY is a protein. So, if you take it in tablet form it'll be broken down and won't pass into the blood.

“One potential weight loss strategy,″ suggests Dr Batterham, is to increase the satiating (sense of feeling full) power of the diet and promote weight loss through the addition of dietary protein - harnessing our own satiety system.″

In other words, the best way to increase your PYY levels is simply to eat more protein-rich foods. Protein helps fool your brain into thinking your stomach is full, making it easier to control your hunger.

This doesn't mean that you need to go on one of these low carbohydrate diets and eat nothing but protein and fat. You need to eat enough protein to satisfy your hunger and preserve lean muscle, but carbohydrate is important to fuel your workouts. Don't cut it out completely.

Most people will need around 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight (2.2 grams per kilogram), which is a safe level of intake for most healthy individuals. So, if you weigh 180 pounds (82 kilograms), you'll need approximately 180 grams of protein per day.

Eds. Note: It's hard to get adequate protein in your diet, especially if you're busy and you don't have the time to shop for, cook and prepare healthy meals. And a lot of high-protein foods, such as red meat, eggs and cheese, can be very high in saturated fat. The solution is to use protein shakes and bars, like Promax and Promax Diet from the sports nutrition company Maximuscle, to boost your protein intake or one of the many other brands that sell protein products.

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Paul Cutttill   |.
When using Promax Diet I get lower abdominal pain, can you advise me on this?
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