Higher protein intake leads to better food choices, study finds

ByLois C

Jul 11, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When analyzing results of the weight-loss trials, researchers found that when dieters increased their protein intake — even slightly from 18% to 20% of their daily food intake — while following a calorie-restricted diet, it had a substantial impact on the quality food choices made by the person.

Weight-loss regimens that employ calorie restrictions can often cause dieters to reduce the intake of healthy foods that contain micronutrients such as iron and zinc, noted researchers who found the opposite effect when dieters increased their intake of protein, leading authors of the study to study the link between protein intake and diet quality. 

Analysis of food records and diet quality for this study was funded by the Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences in Washington, D.C. 

“The impact of self-selected dietary protein on diet quality has not been examined before, to our knowledge, like this,”​ said Anna Ogilvie, co-author of the study and a doctoral student in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers SEBS.

“Exploring the connection between protein intake and diet quality is important because diet quality is often suboptimal in the U.S., and higher-protein weight loss diets are popular.”

Study methods

To find a link between protein intake and diet quality, researchers collected data from more than 200 men and women between the ages of 24 and 75 with a body mass index that categorized them as either overweight or obese participating in clinical trials at Rutgers University.

By Lois C