Eating more protein has been shown to boost weight loss results, help control blood sugar levels, and improve feelings of satisfaction after meals, but is there a downside? To investigate scientists analyzed data from two studies. In the first 28 women aged 43-80 ate 750 fewer calories a day to achieve a one-and-one-half-pound weight loss each week for 12 weeks. Fifteen of the women ate meat-free diets with protein from vegetarian, dairy and egg sources. Their total protein intake was 18 percent of their daily calories. The other 13 women ate 30 percent of their calories from protein with 40% from lean pork and 60% from vegetarian, sources. All of the women lost about 19 pounds each on average, but those who ate the higher-protein, meat-containing diet lost more bone density.
In a second study, 43 postmenopausal women each ate a 1,250-calorie diet for nine weeks. All of the women ate the same 1,000-calorie vegetarian diet, but 15 also received 250 calories from chicken breast meat, 14 women ate 250 calories from beef tenderloin and 14 women ate 250 calories from shortbread cookies and sugar-coated chocolates. All of the women successfully lost weight, but the groups that consumed the higher-protein meat-containing diets also lost bone.
The lesson: if you build more protein into your meals don't load up on meat. Even if you aren't ready to go veggie all the way commit to being a part-time vegetarian (also called a flexitarian).
Here are a few ways to swap meat for plant-based protein and guess what? You'll save calories at the same time:
Make tacos with ½ cup black beans instead of 3 oz 90% ground beef.
Save 95 calories
Make a sandwich or wrap with 1 serving organic extra firm tofu rather than 3 oz deli turkey
Save 40 calories
Swap a turkey burger for a grilled Portobello mushroom and 2 Tbsp hummus
Save 60 calories
Are you an omnivore who eats veggie meals part-time? If so how often and what are your favorites? Please share!
Image: National Cancer Institute