It’s no surprise that America has an obesity epidemic. Turn any corner and fast food beckons you. Enter any store and your first impression is candy and chips. Even grocery stores are mostly lined with chemically laden fat-creating foods. What is a person to do?
Should we eat more fat? Should we eat less carbs? Should we eat for a blood type? First, we need to understand one of the most crucial hypotheses regarding healthy eating that no one can circumvent. The Protein Leverage Hypothesis.
What is the Protein Leverage Hypothesis?
The basics of this hypothesis are humans prioritize protein in regulating food uptake. In plain English, this means humans will eat until they have reached a certain amount of protein. So what is this saying? This implies that if the food we eat does not have the amount of protein/amino acids required by our bodies we will over-consume carbohydrates/fats in a subconscious effort to obtain the amount of protein our bodies require. This is why it is so easy to sit down and eat a bag of potato chips and a liter of soda. Rarely will you see any individual sit down to a steak dinner and then have 3 or 4 more!
Many researchers are beginning to concur that protein requirements are too low. If this is true then low dietary intake of protein could be a factor in driving the obesity epidemic. As individuals eat a more unbalanced diet, low in protein, they increase their food intake in order to meet those protein requirements.
The following abstract from a paper by David Raubenheimer and Stephen Simpson – who coined the term “protein leverage” – is telling:
“The obesity epidemic is among the greatest public health challenges facing the modern world. Regarding dietary causes, most emphasis has been on changing patterns of fat and carbohydrate consumption. In contrast, the role of protein has largely been ignored, because (i) it typically comprises only approximately 15% of dietary energy, and (ii) protein intake has remained near constant within and across populations throughout the development of the obesity epidemic. We show that, paradoxically, these are precisely the two conditions that potentially provide protein with the leverage both to drive the obesity epidemic through its effects on food intake, and perhaps to assuage it.”
Next time cravings and the inability to stop eating hits, remember this macronutrient may be hindering your and causing you to eat potentially hundreds of extra calories.