We have discussed in the past the effect of high carbohydrate intake on weight gain. Although high carbohydrate intake is considered as one of the main culprits for promoting weight gain and having a low-carb diet is one of the most effective ways for weight loss, it is unhealthy and unsustainable to live on a low-carb diet for a prolonged period of time. Rather than deliberately trying to avoid eating carbohydrates, incorporating extra protein into your diet can really help to reduce appetite and calorie intake, hence to achieve a similar outcome as having a low carbohydrate diet. Losing weight from eating more rather than eating less certainly makes dieting a lot simpler and much more entertaining. So what can incorporating extra protein into your diet actually do?
Increasing protein intake can increase diet-induced thermogenesis by up to 2 fold compared to having a high carbohydrate diet, which can in turn increase energy expenditure and satiety (feeling full and satisfied). A high protein diet can create a negative fat-balance and a positive protein balance, and can increase fat oxidation, at least in the short term (Westerterp-Plantenga 2008, Regulatory Peptides). A high protein diet that makes up 30% of daily energy intake can significantly reduce appetite and hence reduces daily calorie intake by around 441kcal per day and decreases fat mass by 3.7kg over a 12-week period compared to that of people on a weight maintaining diet with 15% of the daily energy intake from protein (Weigle et al 2005, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).
Eating less carbohydrate will help to maintain body weight and assists weight loss. However, it is unhealthy to have no carb and on top of that, it's difficult to know the exact carbohydrate content of the food we eat, which makes carbohydrate reduction from our diet a real challenge. Eating more protein can reduce one's appetite for other food, increases energy expenditure and subsequently promotes weight loss. It's much easier to eat more than to eat less. Make protein at least 25 - 30% of your daily energy intake and the extra weight around your belly will go.