Study: Does Protein Intake Promote Better Sleep and Weight Loss?

There is a growing appreciation for the importance of sleep and the effects it has on food choices, weight gain, and metabolic health. However, the effects of dietary choices such as protein intake on sleep are not as well-studied or understood. This study examines the effects of protein intake during weight loss on sleep quality in adults who are overweight.

The numbers on the scale haven’t changed in weeks. The frustration you feel grows as you’ve hit a wall in your weight loss journey. You have tried every new fad, trend, and diet but nothing is working. You feel stuck, so it’s time to call it a night and sleep. You lay down willing the urge of sleepiness to overtake you. However the hours tick by, and again your frustration grows.

What if the two things that were eluding you, sleep and scale, could be solved by a daily need? What if you could simply eat your way to weight loss and better sleep? Could the key to your happiness be that simple? Let’s take a closer look.

The Study

Researchers conducted two separate study groups to see if protein intake could help people make better dietary choices during weight loss and also achieve better sleep quality in adults who were overweight.

Study 1 consisted of 34 healthy adults (11 men and 23 women) who were overweight or obese. These participants were randomly separated into two protein groups (animal vs. plant). Each group restricted their caloric intake by 750 kcals and consumed either 10%, 20%, or 30% of  protein from their daily energy intake. They followed this diet for a period of 12 weeks consecutively.

Study 2 consisted of 60 healthy adults (15 men, 45 women) who were overweight or obese. These participants were given either normal protein intake or high protein intake  and also restricted their caloric intake by 750 kcals. They followed this diet for a period of 16 weeks.

The Findings

While each group was restricted in their caloric intake, there was a large difference in the types of protein consumed and how much.

Study 1 examined the effect of three different protein intakes on sleep quality (10%, 20%, and 30% of daily intake), emphasized by either animal or plant proteins, for 12 weeks while in a calorie deficit of about 750 kcal/day. Study 2 compared the effects of normal protein (0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day), or higher protein (1.6 grams per kilogram per day), while in an energy deficit of about 750 kcal/day for 16 weeks.

Study 1 showed an improved global sleep score with the ingestion of 20% protein compared to 10% protein, with 30% protein falling between the two. Study 2 showed improvements in subjective sleep quality on a higher protein diet, while the group consuming a normal protein diet experienced no changes. It is important to note here that participants in this study were caloric intake and were not of normal weight. This affects the outcome of how protein intake may work in someone of normal body weight.

In Closing

Doctors and researchers are often searching for new ways to battle america’s obesity epidemic. This is one of the various angles researchers are testing and have recently found moderate results in. While much more research needs to be done, there is a link between many of the major metabolic diseases and dietary/sleep habits. If increasing something simple like protein in a person’s diet leads to better sleep, fullness, and healthier choices over time, then we can give relief and hope to those combating pounds. If you are currently on a weight loss journey and have hit a wall try implementing the above, don’t give up. Like with all things, improvements take time.


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