Why the Winners of this Protein Study Came Out the Biggest Losers

You know gorging on Cheesecake Factory’s mega-entrees will spike the scales tomorrow morning, but could opting for a guacamole burger over the Fettuccini Alfredo be just a little more forgiving?

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows skimping on protein when you overeat could store more fat than if you ate a protein-rich feast.

The study divided 25 normal-weight, healthy 18 – 35 year old men and women into three groups:

  • Low-protein diet – 5% of calories came from protein

  • Moderate-protein diet – 15% of calories came from protein

  • High-protein diet – 25% of calories came from protein

All three groups pigged out for eight weeks with an extra 1,000 calories every day.

Predictably, all 25 participants’ jeans fit much tighter by the study’s end. However, the low-protein group gained about half the weight as the normal- and high-protein groups.

But wait. The low-protein group lost lean body mass, and stored more fat, whereas the moderate- and high-protein groups increased lean body mass and stored less fat.

In other words, the low-protein group gained less weight than the moderate- and high-protein groups, but that weight loss came from muscle, not fat. So even if the low-protein group came out the winner, they ultimately were the losers.

Let’s be clear: you should never overeat, and as these participants show, even eating too much healthy food will make you fat.

But this study also dispels the myth that a high-carb, low-fat diet provides the panacea for fast fat loss. Special K with skim milk and a banana and OJ will spike your blood sugar, sending your insulin levels soaring and storing fat. Inevitably, you’ll crash around 10 a.m. and head for a 100 Calorie pack of Oreos, sending your blood sugar on another rollercoaster ride.

A number of pertinent studies confirm protein’s importance for fast fat loss. A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, for instance, concluded that a high-protein breakfast reduced ghrelin (the hormone that tells your brain to eat now) much better than a high-carb breakfast.

Another study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that, compared to carbs, protein does a much better job

  • keeping you satiated

  • boosting your metabolism

  • increasing thermogenesis (fat burning)

  • staying leaner and more muscular

Let’s be honest. If a supplement made all those claims, you’d be lined up around the block to buy it.

Have I convinced you that every meal should contain protein, whether or not you’re aiming for fast fat loss? Start your day with a Mediclear SGS Chocolate. Load it with chia or flaxseeds, organic berries, and unsweetened coconut milk for a protein/ good fats/ fiber punch that will keep you full and focused all morning.

I want your lunch and dinner plate to look like this:

  • Lean protein – organic chicken, grass-fed beef, and wild salmon make smart choices

  • Leafy veggies – the more, the better. This is the one food I’m fine with you overeating

  • Starchy carbs – don’t fear carbs, but choose the right ones like lentils, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and beans

  • Good fats – guacamole, for instance, makes any dish more interesting. Or drizzle extra-virgin olive oil on top of your spinach salad

To get and sustain fast fat loss, I also want you to do burst training with the Xiser or with my 4 x 4 Workouts. (You can download a free one here: http://www.jjsfitclub.com/)

If you find you’re stalling at any point:

  • Try an elimination diet to determine food sensitivities. I’ve seen numerous people pull dairy and wheat (common food sensitivities) and the scale starts moving again

  • Swap lunch for another protein smoothie



Blom WA, et al. Effect of a high-protein breakfast on the postprandial ghrelin response. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Feb;83(2):211-20.

Paddon-Jones D, et al. Protein, weight management, and satiety. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 May;87(5):1558S-1561S.

© 2011 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc. Celebrity Nutrition & Fitness Expert JJ Virgin helps clients lose weight fast by breaking free from food allergies.  She is the bestselling author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy, a Huffington Post blogger, creator of the 4X4 Burst Training Workout & co-star of TLC’s Freaky Eaters. Visit her at http://www.jjvirgin.com to take the quiz & find out if Your “Healthy” Habits are Making You Tired, Bloated & Age Faster?