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June 11, 2018 • Weight Control

Dig the Power of Protein

Assortment of healthy protein source and body building food. Meat beef salmon shrimp chicken eggs dairy products milk cheese yogurt beans quinoa nuts oat meal. Copy space background

If you want to keep your hunger under wraps, be sure to include a nice dose of protein at each of your meals. Past studies have indicated that protein, relative to carbs and fats, has superior hunger-quieting effects. In an effort to confirm protein’s unique sating power, researchers performed a systematic review of past studies looking at protein and perceived feelings of fullness to combine all of the results into one more powerful analysis.

The results? Protein does, in fact, make us feel fuller. Because appetite control is arguably the Holy Grail of weight control, we would all be wise to put this encouraging conclusion into practice at every meal.

Here’s my best advice for leveraging the power of protein at mealtimes as Mother Nature’s diet pill:

To give hunger the boot and help you preserve or build lean body mass, the secret is to get enough protein at each of your three meals. Here are some strategies that will help you in that effort.

  • Include a nice dose of protein at each meal. Strive for at least 20 grams, but 25 to 30 grams (especially for men) is likely best. For further guidance, note that lean animal proteins (fish, poultry, red meat) generally provide about 21 grams per 3 ounces (about the size of a deck of cards); a cup of milk 8 grams; a cup of beans about 17 grams; an individual container of low-fat Greek yogurt 15 grams; a large egg 7 grams; 1⁄2 cup tofu 9 grams; and 2 tbsp peanut butter 8 grams. The right dose of protein should give you at least 2 to 21⁄2 hours of satiety.
  • If you are hungry less than two hours after a meal, chances are you need to step up the protein a bit. Or perhaps you ate too many Great White Hazards!
  • The best protein choices for your health and your waistline include shellfish, fish, skinless poultry, nuts, peanut or other nut butters, seeds, whole soy foods, low-fat or skim dairy products, omega-3 eggs, and beans/legumes. Of course, you can include multiple protein sources at mealtime as desired to help you reach your quota.
  • Getting adequate protein at breakfast appears to be especially valuable for appetite control—even for later in the day. So be particularly attentive to protein at breakfast.

Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2016.01.003

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