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Have you heard of the ‘Protein Leverage Hypothesis’?

Updated: Apr 15, 2022

It proposes that a dominant appetite for protein in conjunction with a decline in the ratio of protein to fat and carbohydrates in the diet drives excess energy intake and could in turn promote the development of obesity.

The hypothesis claims that we don’t have one appetite for food, but we actually have 5. One each for protein, fat, carbohydrates, calcium and salt.

We have sensors in our mouth, the lining of our gut and our brain that detect the presence of these nutrients.

When we don’t get enough of them, we develop cravings. But it is the need for protein that dominates them all. Our appetite for protein s the strongest of all.

If we don’t eat enough protein, then we continue eating until we satisfy our protein appetite.

Especially if we are eating meals with a higher portion of carbohydrates and fats.

It is believed that on a high protein diet, our protein appetite will be satisfied sooner, while consuming fewer calories. This is called the ‘Protein Leverage Effect.’

It’s believed that the actual amount of protein consumed over time hasn’t changed but the ratio of protein to fats and carbohydrates has.

If you eat 100 grams of steak, you’re consuming about 25 grams of protein. Whereas 100 grams of lentils is also about 25 grams of protein.

Though if you eat 100 grams of bread, you are only consuming about 12 grams of protein whilst 100grams of potato chips has about 7 grams of protein. That’s why it’s so easy to eat a packet of chips.

So how much protein do we need?

According to the hypothesis we need to be consuming 15-20% of our calories in the form of protein. If you go below 15% your protein appetite will want you to eat more.

You still need the other two macronutrients carbohydrates and fats in your diet to meet your nutrient demands.

Meal suggestions

Some breaky options could include a 2-egg omelette with shallots, baby spinach and mushrooms with 1/2 avocado o the side.

Or a Strawberry Protein shake with frozen berries, natural yoghurt, chia seeds and your choice of milk.

Lunch could be a mixed salad with shredded free-range chicken, walnuts with homemade olive oil and balsamic dressing.

Dinner options: Lean Grass-fed steak with steamed green vegetables, Wild Salmon and salad or Vegetarian quiche with baby spinach, goats feta and cherry tomatoes.

Have a great day

Jules x


1. Inspiring Australia. 2014. The protein leverage hypothesis. Available at:

2. Mosley, D., 2022. The Fast 800 Keto. Sydney: Hachette Australia.


Casuarina Holistic Health is conveniently located at Casuarina, NSW in between Kingscliff and Cabarita Beach on the Tweed Coast. Naturopathic consultations can be either in clinic or via Zoom.

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