New research out of Purdue University has found that people who are losing weight through a high-protein diet are sleeping better too. For the most part, studies in the past have looked at how sleep can affect an individual’s diet and weight; however, this study flipped that question and decided, instead, to look at how the diet affects sleep, especially with regards to the amount of protein an individual takes in.
In this study, it was noted that middle-aged adults who had a low-calorie, high-protein diet were not only able to better manage their weight, but had higher sleep quality as well. This was compared to a group of participants who had lost the same amount of weight, but did so on a diet with a normal amount of protein.
Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, affiliated with the American Society of Nutrition, these findings give researchers a better understanding of the correlation between food and sleep.
There was a pilot study performed first with 14 participants who took in a higher amount of dietary protein. Results showed they had better sleep quality after just four weeks of a consistent high-protein diet. In the main study, 44 overweight or obese participants were separated into two groups: one group received a normal amount of protein and the second ground received a higher amount of protein. The aim was for weight loss, while also analyzing the effect on sleep.
The participants received anywhere between 0.8 to 1.5 kg of protein per kilogram of body weight for 16 weeks. It took three weeks for individuals to adapt completely to this diet. During this time, the participants filled out a survey each month that rated their sleep quality. After three or four months of higher protein intake, individuals began to report better sleep quality.
A dietitian customized the diet for each participant depending on their energy need, while also cutting 750 calories of carbohydrates and fats per day while also maintaining the proper amount of protein, depending on whether the person was in the normal or high protein group. Protein sources varied between beef, poultry, fish, soy, pork, and milk protein.
As has been seen in previous studies, poor sleep can lead to metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and early death. Given that Americans have consistently declined in sleep quality over the last several decades, it is important to understand how diet and lifestyle changes can affect sleeping patterns and quality. It is also noteworthy that the source, quantity, and pattern of protein have an impact on one’s body weight, composition, and appetite.
Sleep and proper diet are important modifiers of health and wellness. This research helps to create that link between a higher protein and lower calorie diet with better sleep quality, which will have a positive effect on overall health. As is typical, additional research is needed to confirm the theory that more protein equals better sleep, but these findings are promising, researchers believe.
Author: Rachael Herman is a professional writer with an extensive background in medical writing, research, and language development. Her hobbies include hiking in the Rockies, fishing, and reading.
© 2021 American Sleep Association.