Want to know about protein, appetite, and weight?


Protein content of single meals and overall diet makes a difference to health.

Media attention to sugar and fat overshadow the potential benefits of protein on health. In a review article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dr. Heather Leidy, along with 7 other nutrition experts, summarized the evidence relating protein with weight loss and maintenance (Leidy, 2015).  Here is what they found, in brief.

A review of 24 studies on protein intake at a single meal on appetite and subsequent food intake confirms . . .

“…a modest satiety effect with protein-rich meals but do not support an effect on energy intake at the next eating occasion.”

When it comes to body weight as it relates to daily protein intake, results are summarized from previous meta-analyses:

comparing lower versus higher protein energy restricted diets, higher-protein diets (27% to 35% of energy) led to “greater weight loss … and fat loss… The higher-protein diets also preserved more lean mass during energy restriction.”

Given the importance of avoiding weight regain over time after weight loss, evidence was considered for studies that examined high-protein diets among weight loss studies that lasted longer than 1 year. The overall evidence suggests:

“a lower-carbohydrate, higher-protein diet was associated with better weight loss, compared with lower-protein diets, but the effect size was small… Although lean mass did not differ between diets, fat mass losses were greater after the higher-protein diets.”

Just how much protein is needed to see weight benefits? The evidence suggests:

“the quantity of protein necessary to promote improved weight management and cardiometabolic outcomes lies somewhere between 1.2 and 1.6 g protein per kg per day…”

The authors concluded that based on current habitual protein intake among adults in the US, adding about 25-30 grams protein/day would “potentially be sufficient to elicit long-term improvements in weight management.”



Reference Citation

Leidy, HJ, PM Clifton, A Astrup, TP Wycherley, MS Westerterp-Plantenga, ND Luscobe-Marsh SC Woods, and RD Mattes. “The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance.” Am J Clin Nutr 2015;101(6):1311S-1315S. This paper summarizes a scientific session presented at the “Protein Summit 2.0: Evaluating the Role of Protein in Public Health” meeting with funding from the Egg Nutrition Center along with several others donors.




Heather-Leidy-150x150   Heather Leidy, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Nutrition & Exercise Physiology at the University of Missouri and a science advisor to the Egg Nutrition Center.  Dr. Leidy was not financially compensated for this post. However, all opinions reflected in this post are the authors’.


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