The high-protein diet is becoming increasingly popular.
While on this diet, you’d typically increase the amount of protein you consume to make up a larger percentage of your daily energy intake. This is usually compensated by a decrease in the consumption of carbohydrates or fats, so your daily calorie intake remains roughly the same.
Many people who start a high-protein diet typically do so to lose weight or gain muscle mass.
Read on to explore the effects of a high-protein diet on weight loss and whether research supports these claims.
Can You Lose Weight on a High-Protein Diet?
Some research evidence shows that increasing your protein intake can promote weight loss.
Studies have found that consuming more protein than the recommended dietary allowance of protein (0.80 grams of protein/kg of body weight/day) not only facilitates weight loss but also improves body composition by reducing fat mass while preserving fat-free mass (FFM) .
On top of that, longer-term clinical trials have also demonstrated that a high-protein diet can prevent weight regain after weight loss .
Consuming more proteins may help you lose weight through several mechanisms. They are as follows:
- The consumption of proteins increases the levels of hunger-inhibiting hormones. These hormones help to promote satiety and a sense of fullness, which can help to reduce your overall food intake .
- A high-protein diet may increase energy expenditure. Research suggests that this diet can increase your resting metabolic rate and DIT (diet-induced energy expenditure). DIT refers to the energy utilized by your body to digest and absorb nutrients from the foods you consume [1, 2].
- Proteins can stimulate gluconeogenesis, the process of making glucose (sugars) from fats and proteins. During this process, your body uses energy, which may help promote weight loss .
Due to all these reasons, increasing your dietary protein intake may help you lose weight.
Does a High-Protein Diet Reduce Belly Fat?
Some evidence suggests that a high-protein diet might help with reducing belly fat. Researchers have found that consuming a high-protein diet led to greater reductions in belly fat and overall body fat compared to a standard diet .
All in all, studies have shown promising results. Based on current findings, a high-protein diet can be an effective means of improving body composition and weight .
How Much Weight Can You Lose on a High-Protein Diet?
The amount of weight and body fat a person loses will differ from one individual to another.
One study involving 65 participants found that around 35% of participants in the high-protein group lost more than 10 kg of weight over the course of 6 months .
Another study found that participants who adhered to a high-protein diet lost an average of 3.6 kg over a 3-month period .
A third study discovered that participants in the high-protein diet lost more weight compared to the standard-protein diet. The percentage of weight loss in the high-protein group was an average of 7% .
In general, a high-protein diet likely leads to more weight loss than a standard diet. In addition to that, this diet may also help to prevent weight regain.
Is a High-Protein Diet the Fastest Method of Losing Weight?
How quickly you lose weight will also depend on your original body weight, as well as the number of carbs and calories you consume. You will lose weight faster if you have more weight to lose, to begin with.
In general, many clinical trials on the high-protein diet are carried out over 3-6 months. As previously mentioned, some research has found that some participants on a high-protein diet managed to lose over 10 kg of weight over 6 months. That said, the majority of participants in this group still did not lose over 10 kg of weight, though the amount of weight they lost was greater compared to the group on a standard diet .
While the high-protein diet might not lead to the quickest weight loss, it can improve body composition and may prevent the regaining of weight post-diet.
Are there any Additional Benefits of a High-Protein Diet?
Apart from weight loss, research has found that a high-protein diet can bring about other health benefits, including the following:
- Increased muscle mass: Proteins are the building blocks of your muscles. Thus, consuming more protein can help to improve muscle gain and strength when the right duration, volume, and intensity of training is carried out .
- Improved heart health: Some research has found that high-protein weight loss diets may have a beneficial effect on cholesterol and lipid levels . Some clinical trials have also found that a high-protein diet can help to reduce blood pressure . Of course, the benefits of this diet on your heart health will depend on the type of proteins you consume. A diet that consists of proteins rich in saturated fats can increase your risk of heart disease. On the other hand, a diet rich in plant proteins and proteins low in saturated fats, like nuts and seeds, is much likelier to benefit heart health.
- Improved blood sugar control: Researchers have found that increasing the dietary intake of proteins may improve blood sugar response and blood glucose control in people with Type 2 diabetes .
How Can I Get Started on a High-Protein Diet?
There are no hard-and-fast rules on how much protein to eat on a high-protein diet. But, in general, you can start by consuming enough proteins to meet 20-25% of your total daily energy intake. One gram of protein delivers around 4 calories. So, if you consume a total of 2000 calories each day, you should aim for about 100 grams of protein daily.
A great way to increase your protein intake is to stock up on protein-rich foods. Some healthy sources of protein include the following:
- Lean beef
- Lean meats, like chicken breast and turkey breast
- Lentils, legumes, and beans
- Cottage cheese
- Greek yoghurt
- Higher-protein veggies, like broccoli and mushrooms
- Almonds and other nuts
- Pumpkin seeds and chia seeds
Before starting on a high-protein diet or making any other significant changes, it’s always best to consult your dietitian, nutritionist, or healthcare provider.
If you’re looking for beginner-friendly guides and tips, feel free to check out our complete guide to the high-protein diet and our lists of the top high-protein foods and high-protein snacks to add to your grocery list.
Explore in more detail
- A Beginner’s Guide to the High-Protein Diet
- High Protein Foods for Muscle Gain and Weight Loss
- Best High-Protein Snacks for Weight Loss, Muscle Gain, & Satiety
- Highest Protein Vegetables
- Top High-Protein Meal Plans for a High-Protein Diet
- High-Protein Diet Tips for Beginners
- 10 Cheap Ways to Add Protein to Your Breakfast
- High-Protein Diet for Weight Loss: What Does Research Say?
- High-Protein Diet Side Effects and Risks
- High Protein Foods for Muscle Gain and Weight Loss