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What?! A High-Protein Weight-Loss Diet Won’t Make You Healthier?

author image Hillary Eaton
Hillary Eaton is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles whose work has appeared in VICE, Refinery29, LA Weekly and Complex. She loves writing about food, entertainment, travel and style.
What?! A High-Protein Weight-Loss Diet Won’t Make You Healthier?
A high-protein diet may not improve your overall health. Photo Credit: Elena_Danileiko/iStock/Getty Images

While a diet high in protein has often been suggested for weight loss, a new study has found that even though you may lose weight, you might not actually be getting healthier.

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In a small study published in Cell Report by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, researchers observed the weight loss of a group of obese postmenopausal women for six months. The women were split into three different groups.

One group kept their diet the same, one group reduced their amount of daily calories and ate the recommended amount of protein, and one group reduced their amount of daily calories but increased their daily protein intake by 125 to 200 calories.

The results were pretty unexpected. TIME explains that while both groups of women who decreased their caloric intake were able to lose weight, the group of women who increased their protein intake did not experience any changes to their bodies' insulin sensitivity.

Insulin sensitivity is described by as how sensitive the body is to the effects of insulin. Increased resistance to insulin is often a result of being overweight and leads to high blood sugar and Type 2 diabetes. So while the women who increased their protein intake still did lose weight, one of the largest health concerns associated with being overweight — an increased chance of developing diabetes — still remained.

However, insulin sensitivity was reported to have increased between 25 and 30 percent for those who only consumed the recommended daily amount of protein during weight loss. A pretty significant figure for your overall health.

“We definitely expected a blunting of the effect, but to completely eliminate it [increased insulin sensitivity] was a little bit surprising,” lead study author Bettina Mittendorfer, a professor of medicine, told TIME. “It’s a tremendous effort to go through a 10 percent loss in body weight. To not see an improvement in one of these key factors is significant, I think.”

While there still needs to be more research done, including investigating any differences to insulin sensitivity if plant protein is ingested instead of animal protein, Mittendorfer warned against the high-protein diet for weight loss: “I think there is no reason to go for high protein intake during weight loss, based on our results,” she told TIME.

What Do YOU Think?

Have you tried a high-protein diet for weight loss? Would you consider trying one still? What diets have worked for you for weight loss? Tell us in the comments!

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