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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 17, 2008

Pass the Protein, Please!

By Worker Bee
26 Comments

Well, I’ll be —! This study on protein’s role in hunger management made our day. It’s an oldie but a goody.

The amount of a hunger-fighting hormone can be increased by eating a higher protein diet, researchers report in the September issue of the journal Cell Metabolism, published by Cell Press. The hormone, known as peptide YY (PYY), was earlier found by the researchers to reduce food intake by a third in both normal-weight and obese people when given by injection. 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,” said Medical Research Council clinician scientist Rachel Batterham of University College London, who led the new study.

Ain’t that a kick in the head? O.K., let’s throw in our favorite part just for good measure:

One potential weight loss strategy is therefore to increase the satiating power of the diet and promote weight loss through the addition of dietary protein–harnessing our own satiety system. Such a diet is perhaps more typical to that of our hunter-gatherer ancestors,” [Batterham] added.

What was that again? Hunter-gatherer, did she say? (High fives all around.)

Of course, this isn’t the first study to address the importance of satiety in dieting, and neither is it the first to suggest that high protein diets offer a sense of fullness and encourage people to eat less throughout the day. What’s new, the authors say, is pinpointing the hormonal “mechanism” behind the difference.

And it makes perfect sense to us. Proteins, by most accounts, aren’t binge-inducing foods (unless you’re John Candy trying to score a free steak dinner in Uncle Buck). Proteins are digested slowly, don’t flood your bloodstream with glucose and then leave you sprawled out in post-carb crash. They’re the kind of meal, as your granddaddy would say, that sticks to your bones. They’re savory, a little salty and oh, so satisfying. We’d eat them on a train. We’d eat them on a plane.

Seriously, though, the results of this study underscore the primary importance of understanding our bodies and their physiological heritage. It’s mind boggling how much time, energy and money we spend trying to invent another trick, find a shortcut that hoodwinks Mother Nature. It begs the question: when will we stop working against biology? The fact is, when we eat in accordance with how we were designed, things go pretty smoothly.

As grandmamma would say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Instead of rocket science, let’s start thinking Occam’s Razor. Yes, sometimes the simplest explanation really is the best.

So, go on now and enjoy a hearty breakfast, lunch, whatever. And remember, healthy means hearty, and healthy not only tastes great, it hits the spot.

via Biology News

jspatchwork Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

Why the Atkins Diet Works

Dear Mark: Pondering Protein

Weight of the Evidence: PYY in Pill? Get Real.

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26 Comments on "Pass the Protein, Please!"

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McFly
McFly
8 years 8 months ago

If I gots this straight, the article is saying injecting ourselves with PYY and eating protein accomplish the same thing? Is there a PYY supplement out there?

Brian A
Brian A
8 years 8 months ago

These studies are nice, but what about explaining real life experience in restaurants that feature large amounts of meat-eating in the form of burgers, wings, chicken fingers, etc? Those folks do not appear to be satiated by anything other than indigestion and constipation.

MY real life experience has been that losing and maintaining my weight while adding lean muscle tissue has been the EASIEST thing I have ever done since eliminating meat in my diet. Perhaps I’m simply an outlier to these studies?

Mark Sisson
8 years 8 months ago

The difference is in NOT eating the mashed potatoes, biscuits, buns, sodas, milkshakes and all the other fast food “goodies” that jack the insulin up and otherwise overwhelm the PYY.

LabRat
8 years 8 months ago

What Mark said. I reach satiation really, really fast when I get barbecue if all I eat is the meat.

Robert
Robert
8 years 8 months ago

Oh…I’m sorry,is this news?

Even though the science confirms it now doesn’t mean alot of people didn’t already know that a high protein diet reduces hunger greatly.

The movie you’re thinking of is “The Great Outdoors” not “Uncle Buck”.

(Sorry if I’m a little cranky but someone ate my turkey burger…)

Kery
8 years 8 months ago

Maybe this isn’t news… but you’d think it is, given the amount of people I tell about “eat more proteins if you don’t want to be hungry” and who then look at me with as much life in their eyes as a dead cow… ^_^;

brian
brian
8 years 8 months ago

I will have to pay closer attention to all the thin wannabe-cowboys at The Salt Lick when I’m in Texas next month. That is one thing I remember, all those big plates of BBQ going to waste because everyone in the room is simply satisfied with eating less. Except for the fact that all their giant rodeo belt buckles are hidden under their well-satiated bellies 🙁

Eating properly, including volume of food, is a cognitive process; those with the mental discipline to do it succeed and those with psychological weakness do not.

Ryan Denner
8 years 8 months ago
Another study showing that some diets work for some, and not for others. How many of those are out there now? A number of posts ago, you mentioned how great the atkins diet is. I personally think the atkins diet is the worst/inefficient diet out there, especially for athletes. But, who am I to say that because the diet works for some people. Some people prefer certain diets over others. I personally stopped eating meat, and increased fruits/veggies, lost weight, and feel great. Others who are just as physically fit (I am a triathlete) have much higher protein diets, and… Read more »
Migraineur
8 years 8 months ago
Brian – I don’t think eating properly is solely, or even primarily, a cognitive process. We are animals, after all, and animals in their natural state follow tend to follow two patterns – maintaining a constant weight, or late summer/fall weight gain followed by hibernation and winter/early spring weight loss. It is only humans and domesticated animals (who are dependent on humans for food) who get fat and stay fat. It’s us with our big brains who get fat. It’s the stuff that is usually served with the meat at a barbecue joint that causes weight gain – sugary sauces,… Read more »
Migraineur
8 years 8 months ago

Ryan – you say you lost “weight.” Do you know if it was muscle or fat? Have you ever had your body mass composition measured? Just curious.

Brian A
Brian A
8 years 8 months ago
But Ryan, then what of the psychological fun and moral superiority that is reached when one ‘knows’ the ‘right’ way and seeks to tell others who have succeeded in other ways that they are wrong? But Migraineur, is it not my mind that decides what and when to eat. I doubt any of us using our computers to read this are in a state of foraging in the forest for food when our bellies feel hungry. When I use my intellect to tell myself giving into a craving will not be a good thing, the craving passes. When I use… Read more »
Migraineur
8 years 8 months ago
Well, my mind can read Jane Brody’s column in the New York Times and decide to eat a low-fat high-carbohydrate, calorie-controlled diet (which is what my mind did for many years). But because that diet fails to meet my body’s daily protein needs and because it causes insulin to spike and blood sugar to plummet, my body is going to continue to cry for further nourishment, leading me to want to eat more. If my mind continues to decide that low-fat, calorie-controlled diets are a good thing, I can refuse to eat more. But I can only do that for… Read more »
Brian A
Brian A
8 years 8 months ago
You’re right; mis-informed psychology can never work. I also meant being correctly knowledgeable when I preceeded my comments with ‘Eating properly’. How many years did it take you to cognitively realize that what you were doing wasn’t working or wasn’t good for you? Even though it is claimed that humans must be meat-eaters, I have not eaten meat in 18-months and have apparently violated all evolutionary pangs by never having a biological craving for it. I have lost much fat, gained muscle mass, and overall feel much better than I did before. I have changed nothing else about what I… Read more »
Migraineur
8 years 8 months ago
Bryan, we low-carbers are a bit defensive sometimes because we are so used to being told we are killing ourselves by following our diets. I know how annoying that is, and I apologize if I’ve done the same to you. I had an aha moment reading Gary Taubes’ article in the NYT magazine 5 1/2 years ago, in which I recognized myself and my symptoms. I don’t completely dismiss cognition. I just mean that my body, with its shakes and cold sweats and severe hunger pangs, was telling me something. If I’d listened to it, instead of to what my… Read more »
Jane
8 years 8 months ago
Here is the source of the problem: We are creatures of the Pleistocene [a prehistorical era] who have developed Holocene [the historical era] habits. The best diet for either health or weight loss consists of eating the Pleistocene kinds of food our ancestors ate, which are natural for us to eat. It is a low carbohydrate (but not no carbohydrate) diet). They ate, possibly, several pounds of vegetables and fruits daily and, when it was available, perhaps a pound flesh foods (including internal organs and marrow from long bones). It was a diet that consisted of fats, proteins, and natural… Read more »
Migraineur
8 years 8 months ago

Jane, I mostly agree with you, but I question your numbers of pounds of vegetables versus meat. How many daily pounds of vegetables would someone eat in the Pleistocene winter? How could you find that many pounds of edible plants under snow cover?

Brian A
Brian A
8 years 8 months ago
What’s forgotten in this discussion is that anything that happened more than a couple thousand years ago is simply a guess. It cannot be proven by anything more convincing than the evidence against OJ. Instead of paying attention to my evolutionary chimpanzee genes, I read things, try things, make decisions from hand to mouth, and see what happens. This works, that doesn’t, and I try something else. Unfortunately for all the arguments here, the caveman thing doesn’t work for my mind and emotions which are a real part of my being; it’s part of being human as opposed to simply… Read more »
Ryan Denner
8 years 7 months ago

The majority of the weight that was lost was predominately fat, and not muscle. This diet change was performed during my triathlon off season (3 months), and since starting back up, I have been doing 2 strength training (ie. weights) workouts/week.

Brian, I agree with you on that (provided it wasn’t a sarcastic comment), but my point is that this is just another study showing that one particular diet (or thought process) works. My perspective is that it works for some people – and not all.

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[…] Pass the Protein, Please! – Jan. 17 […]

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[…] Pass the Protein, Please! […]

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[…] already knew how protein worked to satisfy the appetite. Proteins are digested much more slowly than carbohydrates; theirs is a steady breakdown into […]

tbird
tbird
6 years 2 months ago
I want to say that I’ve only been eating Primal for a few weeks (usually at about 50 carbs a day, sometimes up to 100) It has been so surprising to me that the lack of hunger and cravings is actually one of the most liberating parts of this diet. I’ve always struggled with my weight, at best I’ve been curvy, at worse (especially after my kids were born and I wasn’t paying enough attention to myself) I’ve been fat. I was heavy as a child and as a teen. When people say that it’s psychological weakness that makes people… Read more »
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5 years 9 months ago

[…] diet. This makes a lot of sense when you consider the fact that protein increases our satiety via the hormone PPY and fat increases our satiety via the hormone GLP-1. In a word, a diet rich in protein and fat will […]

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[…] it: most foods are a combination of the three main macronutrients: Fat, Protein or Carbohydrate. Protein and Fats are both satiating – they make you feel full. When you have eaten enough, the […]

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[…] It’s not really about having to control HOW MUCH you eat – the satiety provided by protein and fat takes care of that naturally, especially if dietary sugar isn’t increasing your […]

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[…] to Mark Sisson “Proteins are digested slowly, don’t flood your bloodstream with glucose and then leave you […]

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