Pass the Protein, Please!

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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