I noticed when I adopted the The Protein Power Lifeplan
way of eating that I was finally able to eat regularly spaced meals without getting hungry between them. Prior to that, I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t fighting the urge to snack between meals.
In dietary circles, the ability of food to satisfy your hunger is referred to as the satiety factor. Some researchers claim satiety is tied to the feeling of fullness you get from bulkier foods, but my experience is that high fiber foods do not necessarily satisfy my hunger. They make me feel full, but still hungry. There’s always room for another slice of that fiber-rich pumpkin pie.
Low carb advocates often cite the satiety factor of their diet, as I have done in the first paragraph. Some point to the higher percentage of fat in the diet than the typical low-fat diet emphasized by most doctors, making the claim that you cannot gain weight if you eat a low carb diet with plenty of fat. But some people do gain weight that way, so something else may be at work.
When I started Protein Power, I calculated my daily minimum protein requirement, as the book recommends. I was surprised at how much food I could eat. With 25 – 30 grams of protein per meal as a minimum, that meant a hearty bacon and eggs breakfast of 3 eggs (18 grams) and 3 slices of bacon (9 grams). My usual breakfast routine was a toasted bagel, then a snack before lunch because by 10 AM I was very hungry. But after eating the eggs and bacon mentioned above … I was full, and remained so until lunch time.
As the title of the book suggests, Protein Power is about getting the right amount of protein as well as reducing carbohydrates. It works for me. And it may be the protein that satisfies, rather than just the increased fat.
Nutritional ecologist Professor David Raubenheimer of New Zealand’s Massay University, recently conducted a study on primate eating habits in collaboration with other experts. Studying the Bolivian rainforest spider monkey, Professor Raubenheimer found the monkey’s food intake increased when low protein food sources were the only ones available.
The findings, published in the latest issue of the journal Behavioural Ecology, reinforce the theory that humans and other primates are physiologically predisposed to maintain a constant level of protein in their diets. But when the range of foods available to them is low in protein (yet high in fats and carbohydrates) they are compelled to eat greater quantities in order to maintain correct protein levels.
I think this explains the satiety issue better, and gives an indication of why some people experience weight gain even on a low carb diet. If they aren’t meeting their body’s protein requirements, they will be hungry. And hungry people eat more.