satiety, in dietary terms, is the lack of hunger or how much the diet satisfies you; it is tied closely to “lack of hunger”, a concept that is foreign to most frequent dieters.
Among those successful on low carb diets, dietary fat is often assigned the role as the macro-nutrient that provides the most satiety. But a core principle of the The Protein Power Lifeplan diet is the focus on getting at least the minimum amount of protein required to maintain muscle mass (generally, one half gram of dietary protein per day per pound of lean body mass, from 60 to 100 grams per day for most people. Exceed these minimums is certainly permissible, and people continue to lose weight consuming a 50% “surplus” over and above the minimum).
Now a new study in the medical journal Obesity sheds some new light on the power of protein. The Influence of Higher Protein Intake and Greater Eating Frequency on Appetite Control in Overweight and Obese Men studied both protein intake and frequency of eating:
Collectively, these data suggest that higher protein intake promotes satiety and challenge the concept that increasing the number of eating occasions enhances satiety in overweight and obese men.
Participants were given equal calorie diets, but one group had 79 grams of protein, and the other 138 grams of protein. One subset of each group was directed to eat 6 times a day, while another was served 3 meals per day.
This was a carefully controlled study, and did not test the participant’s ability to “stick to the diet” in a free-living arrangement. Lack of satiety is often a reason free living participants will cheat (and even some in carefully controlled ward studies find ways to cheat … even hospitals have vending machines). But in this study, the participants were fed controlled portions so all factors remain equal. Blood tests and surveys were used to determine several biochemical levels and how satisfied the participants were with the diet they were given.
There is enough variation in the small group to be uncertain if it proves anything in terms of blood glucose response (although several smaller meals seems to lead to better blood sugar levels). But one thing was consistent: higher protein intake provided a higher level of satiety. And frequent eating of smaller amounts did not provide more satiety; it provided less.