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Slim Down Secret: Protein Diets Shake Up Your Gut for Weight Loss

Daniel Kim Views  

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Have you ever stood in front of the mirror after a shower and wondered if you should go on a diet, looking at your stomach and sides? Regular exercise, rather than skipping meals, is often said to be the key to healthy weight loss. So, how should you proceed? According to a paper published by a research team in the United States, changing to a protein-rich diet alters gut microbes and leads to weight loss. Sampson Adejumo, a doctoral student in biology at the University of Illinois Chicago campus, presented his research on the impact of a protein-rich diet on gut microbes and overall health at the ASM Microbe 2024 held in Atlanta, Georgia, on the 15th.

A protein-rich diet leads to weight loss

First, the researchers conducted an experiment involving 16 mice for four weeks to investigate the effect of the amino acids from a protein-rich diet on gut bacteria. They provided a standard diet for the mice for the first two weeks, followed by a protein-rich diet abundant in aromatic amino acids for the next two weeks. They monitored daily stool samples and changes in body fat. DNA was extracted from the stool, and sequence analysis was performed to analyze the composition and dynamics of microbes during the research period. As a result, they found that switching to a protein-rich diet led to significant weight loss and reduction in body fat, accompanied by immediate changes in gut microbial communities. They also compared various protein diets to investigate the impact of individual amino acids on the composition and activity of gut microbial communities. In particular, mice that consumed protein-rich aromatic amino acids showed the most significant decreases in body weight and fat compared to those that consumed a standard or a protein diet rich in branched-chain amino acids.

Furthermore, comparing microbial composition across the four protein groups revealed significant differences in the abundance and composition of microbial taxa after protein concentration. Overall, gut bacteria responded differently to dietary changes from a general carbohydrate diet to a protein diet and, more importantly, to various amino acid groups. 

Samson Adejumo, a Doctoral Candidate in Biology, said, “Although it is too early to say definitively that high-protein diets caused all the observed changes in body composition and gut bacteria, the consistent pattern of changes strongly indicates a link between high-protein diets and changes in the gut microbiome.”

More energy is consumed when digesting protein

So, why do these changes occur when you eat a protein-focused diet? The energy consumption in the process of digesting food is different. Protein requires more energy for digestion and metabolism than other nutrients. About 20-30% of the calories consumed from protein are consumed in digestion and metabolism. Carbohydrates expend approximately 5-10%, and fats about 0-3% during digestion and metabolism. This means that protein intake increases the basal metabolic rate, causing more calories to be burned. Protein also maintains a feeling of fullness for longer than carbohydrates or fats. This can help suppress appetite and reduce total calorie intake.

Protein intake helps maintain or increase muscle mass. Since muscles burn more calories than body fat, increasing muscle mass can help reduce body fat. The study shows that protein-rich aromatic amino acids may be more effective for weight loss and reducing body fat. However, it’s important to note that weight loss cannot be guaranteed solely through protein intake, and overall dietary habits and exercise routines are crucial. Therefore, including protein foods containing aromatic amino acids in your diet may help with weight management, but this should be done with a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle habits.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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