Could Protein Help You Lose Weight?

The answer is a resounding....YES!

There is a plethora of extreme, faddy diets out there which invoke huge public interest, largely because of the affirmation of a well known celebrity such as Beyonce and the lemonade/maple syrup diet, Mariah Carey’s ‘Bleak diet’ and Megan Fox’s and Fergie’s vinegar shot diets! These diets are very extreme in nature, but the underlying principle for them all is quite simply, a calorie deficit. Negative energy balance will induce weight loss, but the sustainability of such rapid weight loss is poor, and the consequence is more often than not....the dreaded rebound weight gain!

So what is the best way to promote sustainable weight loss?

Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition seems to be pointing to the profound benefit a high protein diet can have on weight loss. The Atkins diet, Dhukan diet, South coast diet and many others, all seem to latch onto the high protein, low carb principle, however a general ‘high protein’ diet with no reduction in carbs to that of the recommended norm, will still lead to the same level of fat/weight loss. Experts have attributed this weight loss to a marked reduction in appetite and overall caloric intake due to increased protein, and a 15% reduction of total dietary fat intake in relation to protein. Interestingly, a 15% decrease in total fat, without an inversely proportionate increase in protein resulted in less weight loss.

How does protein promote weight loss?

There are 2 main mechanisms behind this phenomenon, principally, the increased thermogenic effect and thus energy expenditure that accompanies the digestion process of protein. The same quantity of carbs or fat would not require anywhere near the same amount of energy to digest and breakdown. Protein also increases sleeping metabolic rate and dramatically increases satiety (feeling of fullness) compared to other macronutrients such as carbs or fat. High protein diets have also been seen to exert a hormonal response through enhancing the satiating effect of leptin (appetite suppressive hormone) (Weigle, Breen, Matthys, 2005)!

Protein supplements

So where does the trusty protein shake come into this equation? It is fair to postulate that a diet comprising 20% fat, 45% carbs and 35% Protein could/should promote weight loss if accompanied by a regular, structured diet and training regimen. Therefore the mechanisms behind protein ingestion and fat loss remain the same for protein shakes, meaning a whey, soya, egg, pea or hemp protein shake could all make for very useful morning, post workout and mid-meal snacks, giving you the ascendancy in the war against body fat!


Weigle,D, S., Breen,P, A., Matthys, C, C., Callahan, H, S., Meeuws, K, E., Burden, V, R & Purnell, J, Q. (2005). A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad
libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory
changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations. The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition. 82: 41-48.

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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