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In the never-ending quest to lose extra weight, ideas about the best way to diet come and go. Low-fat diets that emphasize carbohydrates (typically starches and grains) were the standard not long ago, but more recently there has been a shift to low-carb diets that emphasize protein. A number of studies have found that carbohydrate restriction can lead to more rapid weight loss than low-fat diets, but findings from other studies suggest that this difference evens out after one to two years.
The new study followed overweight women between ages 40 and 58 for a year after they finished a three-month weight-loss program:
either a high-protein diet, with 34% of calories from protein, 46% from carbohydrate, and 20% from fat,
or a high-carb diet, with 64% of calories from carbohydrate, 17% from protein, and 20% from fat.
At the end of the year, the women who managed to keep their protein portion up had more sustained weight loss: about 14 pounds (6.5 kg), compared with about 8 pounds (3.6 kg) for those eating the high-carb diet.
It is interesting to note that markers of heart health improved in women on both diets, including total cholesterol, LDL and HDL cholesterol, glucose, insulin, C-reactive protein, and homocysteine levels. These changes were associated with weight loss, but not with the protein content of their diet, suggesting that the road to weight loss might not be as important as the weight loss itself for keeping the heart healthy.
Try the following food sources and recipes for surefire ways to up the protein in your diet:
Fish—Basil Baked Cod Fillets, Salmon with Roasted Chile-Mango Sauce
Lean meat—Lime-Jalapeno Chicken, Thai Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Vegetables
Low-fat dairy—Banana Berry Nog, Chickpea Burgers & Tahini Sauce
(Am J Clin Nutr 2008;87:23–9)