Being able to control your appetite is an important factor in the success of your weight loss program. The fewer cravings you have, the easier it is to avoid overeating. There are many ways to help curb cravings, and one of them is by not keeping tempting foods easily available. Another is by gradually shifting your eating habits away from sugary, carbohydrate-laden goodies. Once you're used to less sugar, it's easier to avoid that box of donuts someone put in the break room at work. Another way that people have discovered to help control their appetite is to consume foods high in protein, like yogurt, nuts, or skim milk.

How Protein Helps

When you consume protein, you tend to feel full longer. The same is true with fiber, but that is mostly because fiber expands a bit as it works its way through the digestive system. With protein, scientists still aren't sure why it helps curb appetite, but more than one study has shown that when people increase protein to make up 30% of their diet, they consume an average of over 400 fewer calories a day, and that can make it easier to lose excess weight. Keep in mind that this only works when fats make up 20% or less of daily caloric intake, with carbohydrates making up the other 50%. Also keep in mind that complex carbohydrates (which are often fiber rich) are better for you than simple carbs like sugary snacks.

What Medical Professionals Say

While medical and dietary professionals have shown that increasing protein intake can help people consumer fewer calories and lose weight more easily, they have not yet figured out exactly what it is about protein that does this. One popular theory is that eating protein results in fewer hunger-promoting hormones circulating in the brain, but as yet there is no proof. Medical professionals also say that for otherwise healthy people, increasing protein intake is healthy as long as enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are consumed as well.

Foods High in Protein

Some high-protein foods are better for your weight loss program than others. Baked fish is healthier than a double cheeseburger, and low fat dairy products are healthier than their high fat counterparts. Other great sources of protein include

* Beans
* Legumes
* Nuts
* Poultry
* Eggs
* Tofu

Are There Risks?

For the otherwise healthy person, a higher protein diet generally is not harmful. However, if a high protein diet restricts carbohydrates enough that insufficient fiber is taken in, the risk increases for sluggish digestion. Additionally, when too many red meats are consumed, the long term risk of heart disease rises. Choosing carbohydrates that are high in fiber, like fruit and whole grains helps you feel full and helps balance out a higher protein intake. If you have kidney disease, or if you're pregnant or breast feeding, it's wise to talk to your physician before increasing protein intake. For most people, boosting protein intake is a simple way to make their weight loss efforts more successful, and it works best when fats and sugary carbohydrates are eaten only in moderation.

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