High-Protein Diet Can Boost Metabolism

The thermic effect of food (TEF) refers to how much energy is expended by the body in trying to digest it.

High-protein diets cause a greater TEF, which is why they are said to boost a person's metabolism more so than a carbohydrate-focused diet.

But the effects of this type of diet may wear off as soon as a person goes back to eating normally, new research suggests.

A team from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA found that high-protein diets may lead to reduced fat storage, but a "cheat" day can send you straight back into metabolic inefficiency.

“This study is one more nail in the coffin for the magic bullet for eating everything we want without gaining weight,” said Dr. Dale Schoeller, professor emeritus of nutritional sciences at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison. “It’s the holy grail of metabolism research, but it’s always come up negative.”

Sticking to the diet is key

Researchers report that resting energy expenditure increased significantly in subjects who ate a high-protein diet compared with individuals who ate a low-protein diet.

But at six weeks into the study, the participants were fed a meal similar to what they ate at baseline. All of the subjects exhibited similar expenditure results to what they showed before beginning the special diets.

“We showed acutely that if you eat a high-protein diet, you have an elevated thermic effect of food," said lead researcher Elizabeth Frost. "If you prolong that diet, you maintain the increased effect. But as soon as you revert to a normal diet, the increased expenditure goes away. Your body doesn’t save that elevation.”

While the effects of a high-protein diet can't be "saved" by the body, the positive effects aren't to be discounted.

"The evidence is that it works, that you can achieve energy expenditure not only by exercising but by increasing the amount of protein in your diet,” Frost said.

Source: Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News

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