Do High Protein Diets Boost Metabolism and Increase Satiety?

Annie ShueyBISC 1010: Contemporary Issues in NutritionDue June 28, 2014

Protein is a key nutrient in our diets. Dietary proteins can be found in both plant-based and animal-based foods. Plant-based foods with significant sources of protein include soy, nuts and beans, and animal-based foods with significant sources of protein include eggs, meat and dairy (5). While protein intake needs vary from person to person depending on life stage, gender, age and activity level, it is important for people to prioritize attaining the recommended intake (4). Composed of amino acids, proteins are responsible for several very important functions in our bodies. Proteins are a primary component of enzymes, which facilitate chemical reactions in the body such as digestion. Proteins are also responsible for body cells and structures, such as muscles, blood cells, hair and skin (5).

Protein has long been a staple for athletes and bodybuilders looking to turn fat into muscle. However, everyday people can benefit from consuming protein (4). Some benefits of protein include increased satiety and increased metabolism.

egg.jpeg meats.jpg soy.jpg

Protein Benefit 1: Increased Satiety

Satiety, or the feeling of fullness after consuming a food, plays a role in the amount of food we choose to consume. Recent research gives convincing evidence that high-protein foods and diets can boost that feeling of fullness and reduce feelings of hunger (3). A recent study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when people consume breakfasts high in protein, they experienced increased satiety (2). As a result of their increased feelings of fullness, they reduced nighttime snacking on high-fat and high-sugar foods. Additionally, they showed reductions in brain activity responsible for controlling appetite and food cravings (2).

Screen shot 2014-06-28 at 5.38.46 PM.png

Consuming breakfast cereals that are high in protein promote satiety, or the feeling of fullness after a meal, can help prevent urges to snack later.

Another recent study, published by Cell, mapped out how a protein-rich meal results in satiety. Researchers found that digesting proteins triggers a complex chain reaction, which eventually sends satiety messages to the brain (3).

Screen shot 2014-06-28 at 5.37.12 PM.png

These new research findings have led to dietary supplement products engineered to capitalize on protein’s satiety benefits. A Swedish firm has launched a protein blend composed of whey, egg and pea proteins that is designed to be consumed 30 minutes before a meal in order to increase satiety and reduce over-eating (3).

Protein Benefit #2: Increased Metabolism

Many people seek to speed up their metabolism, as an increased metabolism results in more calories burnt and more weight loss. One way to slightly increase metabolism is by increasing protein intake (1).

Protein has a high thermic effect, which means that about 25 percent of calories from protein are burned in the process of digesting it. This is a much higher rate than foods with high carbohydrate or fat contents (1).

Protein can further increase metabolism when paired with lifestyle changes, as protein intake can help increase metabolism is by increasing muscle mass. Muscle tissue requires more energy than fatty tissue, so increasing muscle tissue can increase the body’s basal metabolic rate, or how many calories the body burns simply performing basic, essential functions (1). One can increase their muscle mass by adding protein to their diet and exercising regularly.

However, it is important to note that increasing protein alone will not lead to significant weight loss, and neither will severely increased protein intakes. Protein foods still contain calories, and overconsumption will result in weight gain (1).

exercise1.jpeg exercise2.jpg


Protein is a crucial nutrient, and people should pay close attention and make sure they are consuming enough. When paired with healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle, moderately increase protein intake can increase metabolism and lead to more weight loss (6). Protein can also aid in weight loss when it stimulates feelings of fullness.

Reference List

1. Cloe, Adam. Can Eating More Protein Speed Metabolism? SF Gate. 2013. Available From: Demand Media. Accessed June 26, 2014.

2. Douglas, SM, Hoertel, HA, Leidy, HJ, Ortinau, LC. Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obsess, “breakfast-skipping,” late-adolescent girls. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [serial online]. February 2013;97(4):677-688. Available From: AJCN Archives. Accessed June 26, 2014.

3. Gray, Nathan. Beyond the gym: Is satiety the next frontier for protein? Nutra Ingredients. 2013. Available From: Nutra Ingredients. Accessed June 26, 2014.

4. Leser S. The 2013 FAO report on dietary protein quality evaluation in human nutrition: Recommendations and implications. Nutrition Bulletin [serial online]. December 2013;38(4):421-428. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed June 26, 2014.

5. “Nutrition For Everyone: Protein.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Available From: CDC 24/7. Accessed June 26, 2014.

6. Witard O, Cocke T, Ferrando A, Wolfe R, Tipton K. Increased net muscle protein balance in response to simultaneous and separate ingestion of carbohydrate and essential amino acids following resistance exercise.Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism [serial online]. March 2014;39(3):329-339. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed June 26, 2014.