Protein… The Dieter’s Friend

Dr. Tague's Blog: Protein...The Dieter's Friend

Protein… I call it the “Dieter’s Friend”. Did you know that dietary protein is ESSENTIAL for health? Literally, we cannot live without it. If you are protein deficient, your energy, strength, endurance, appearance, and even your immune system are not at their potential. Lean meat, dairy, eggs, and soy are just a few of the common foods that are good sources of quality protein.

Protein is necessary to build muscle, bone, internal organs, hair, nails, and just about everything you appreciate about your body!

Unfortunately, I have found that dieters, especially women dieters, are often protein deficient. And, protein-deficiency will sabotage any dieter’s goals over time. Let me explain…

There are at least 3 reasons that adequate, high-quality protein is ESSENTIAL for every dieter seeking a trim, fit body with a healthy metabolism. Dieting without adequate protein is a recipe for disaster!

Reason #1: Brain health is better with protein, including a better mood and a lower appetite.

Ever hear of a dieter getting “grumpy” while dieting? Or hungry? Of course you have. Irritability and hunger are the two main reasons that diets fail. However, protein can provide the dieter with amino acids necessary to make “feel good” brain substances, like dopamine and serotonin. These compounds elevate the mood, increase energy for activity, and reduce appetite and food cravings.

Protein deficient diets lower dopamine and serotonin levels, leading to fatigue, a sluggish metabolism, food cravings, irritability, and depression. Protein deficiency is entirely unnecessary. Yet many women tend to diet with low protein meals, snacks, and beverages throughout the day. Examples to be avoided are cereals, bagels, sweetened yogurts, starchy foods, and even excessive fruit. These “low fat” carbohydrate-based foods can sabotage a well-intentioned dieter.

Reason #2: Muscles and bones are stronger with protein.

Muscles are made of amino acids that come from protein. Some amino acids are “essential” (mandatory), meaning they must be supplied from the diet. This is a protein truth; protein absolutely must be supplied in the diet or deficiencies will result. And protein deficiencies always compromise body structure, function and metabolism!

Building muscle and bone depends on proper protein intake. The amount of muscle building that occurs after protein intake depends on the quality and quantity of protein, as well as other factors like hormone levels and physical activity. A protein source that contains all the essential amino acids in generous amounts will allow your body to make muscle, bone, hair, nails, and internal organs (heart, kidneys, liver, brain, etc).

In addition, studies have shown that high quality protein sources produce a higher thermogenic response, meaning your metabolism speeds up with quality protein! This is due to an increase in muscle growth, which stimulates your metabolism to go even faster in the future.

Low protein diets or low quality protein can make you tired, depressed, have food cravings, and experience a slow metabolism. Research also shows that protein is necessary for bone health and strength. A relatively high protein intake is associated with increased bone strength and a reduced risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Reason #3: Weight loss, especially fat loss, is greater with protein!

Protein is vitally important during weight loss and maintenance. You don’t want your weight loss to be from muscle (one of the most metabolically active “calorie burning” tissues in your body). Studies show diets with higher protein and lower carbohydrates increase fat burning while minimizing the loss of muscle. Both quantity and quality of protein must be controlled for optimum weight loss. Our program addresses this with high quality meal replacements that deliver optimum protein sources to maximize metabolism.

A study presented at Harvard University at a North American Association for the Study of Obesity meeting used a meal replacement plan for 10 years. After 10 years, those using meal replacements weighed about 33 pounds less than people who did not use meal replacements. We use this approach, with properly formulated meal replacements, as a powerful tool to guarantee proper nutrition while losing and maintaining weight.


Protein intake promotes faster weight loss, strong muscles, strong bones, a faster metabolism, and a lower appetite. It is essential to maintain excellent protein intake while dieting. Our Meal Replacements are a convenient, science-based solution. Our comprehensive approach to weight loss uses meal replacements, designed for weight loss and muscle building. We also design health-enhancing meal plans with excellent sources of protein for maintaining weight loss long term.

Remember, Optimum Health is ALWAYS worth the effort.

For Optimum Health,

Rick Tague, M.D., M.P.H.

Ann Rev Nut, v 29 2009; Repr Nut Dev, vol 36,1996; Nutr Met, vol 2 2005; J Am Col Nut, vol 24 2005; J Nut, v 141 2011

Rick Tague, M.D., M.P.H. & T.M. is a nutrition & weight loss specialist and the Founder & Medical Director of the Center for Nutrition and Preventive Medicine, P.A.

Dr. Tague is an Alpha Omega Alpha honors graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. He also holds a Masters Degree in Public Health from Tulane. Dr. Tague is board certified by the American Board of Obesity Medicine and the American Board of Family Medicine. His medical practice has focused on optimum health, nutrition, and weight loss since 1996.