Protein key to curbing overeating, Australian study finds

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 18th October 2011

Scientists from the University of Sydney, Australia, claim to have found the first scientific evidence that dietary protein plays an important role in human appetites.

According to the Dr Alison Gosby and Professor Steve Simpson, from the university’s School of Biological Sciences, including enough protein in our diets, rather than simply cutting calories, is the key to curbing appetites and preventing excessive consumption of fats and carbohydrates.

In their study, 22 participants were put on three diets over three separate four-day periods. Through their diets, some of the participants had a protein intake of 10 per cent, some of 15 per cent and some 25 per cent.  Energy intake over each four-day period was monitored, as were hunger ratings on day four.

The researchers found that those with the lower protein percentage diets had a higher energy intake – mostly due to snack between meals.

Commenting on the new findings, Dr Gosby said, “Humans have a particularly strong appetite for protein, and when the proportion of protein in the diet is low this appetite can drive excess energy intake.

“Our findings have considerable implications for body weight management in the current nutritional environment, where foods rich in fat and carbohydrates are cheap, palatable, and available to an extent unprecedented in our history.”

Professor Simpson said that today’s western-world diets – where protein is increasingly diluted by fats and carbohydrates – are likely to be causing people to overeat and could be fueling the obesity epidemic.