Sunday, March 13, 2022

Protein Consumption And Risk of Diabetes

The Study

In this investigation, 833 subjects who had lost weight were studied for 3 years. Subjects who had increased their protein consumption during this weight maintenance period had a significant decrease in BMI and a significant decrease in HbA1c, which is a long-term measure of blood sugar. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2021; 114:1847-48

Take Home Message

Adding a little more protein to your diet is a nice way to aid in the weight loss process. It also appears to reduce risk of type 2 diabetes. Just make sure you are picking your protein carefully.

Focus on healthy sources, such as lean meats (like chicken and turkey), low fat dairy, seafood, beans, nuts and lentils.

Limit unhealthy sources of protein, such as red meat, processed meat (like bacon, sausage and pepperoni) and full fat dairy.

Sleep Deprivation And Energy Intake

The Study

In this interesting study, 80 subjects who were overweight and slept an average of 6.5 hours per night were randomized into two groups. One group continued their usual sleep patterns, while the other group received sleep hygiene counseling with the goal of increasing their sleep to 8.5 hours per night.

The intervention lasted for 28 days and the subjects had their energy intake measured by doubly labeled water, which is very accurate. By the end of the follow up period, the sleep counseling group increased their sleep by 1.2 hours. They also consumed 270 fewer calories per day than subjects sleeping 6.5 hours. Jama Internal Medicine doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2021.8098

Take Home Message

The authors present several possible reasons why inadequate sleep increases energy consumption:

-Sleep deprivation may increase hunger.

-Sleep deprivation may alter appetite hormones.

-Sleep deprivation may cause changes in brain regions related to reward.

Whatever the reason, getting your sleep up to a minimum of 7 hours per night may really help with hunger and rate of weight loss.

Sugar Sweetened Beverages And Academic Performance

As many of you who work with me or read my books know, I read the nutrition research every month in an effort to stay on top of any important new studies. Occasionally, I come across a study that seems so important that I need to write a Feature Article on it. That happened just recently (Reference 1).

The Study

In this fascinating study, 4,245 Australian school children between the ages of 8 and 15 years had their sugar sweetened beverage consumption measured. The researchers also had access to the student’s academic standardized testing scores.

When comparing the students who consumed less than 1 glass of sugar sweetened beverage per day to those consuming 4-6 glasses:

 -Grammar scores were 6% higher

 -Reading scores were 9% higher

 -Writing scores were 6% higher

 -Math scores were 7% higher

Conclusions And Recommendations

This is a very powerful study that demonstrates some of the hidden dangers of eating high glycemic carbs, such as sugar. Most parents think of sugar as nutritionally empty calories. If their kids are at a healthy weight and are eating well for the most part, adding a whole bunch of sugar each day is not considered a big deal.

It kind of is a big deal. The health risks of sugar have been shown in the research literature over the past few decades. Sugar consumption has been associated with obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain cancers. Emerging evidence shows it can even impact how your brain works. 

So, why would consuming a lot of sugar impact your academic performance? There are several possible mechanisms:

-High sugar consumption often causes a reactive hypoglycemia which results in low blood sugar after a few hours. Low blood sugar can negatively impact energy levels, which may make it harder to pay attention in class and perform on exams.

-Swings in blood sugar can also impact mood. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, it is much harder to pay attention and perform well in school.

-In this paper the authors theorize that sugar may actually have a negative impact on cognitive function. They propose that a high sugar consumption may cause cognitive dysfunction through hippocampal and frontal lobe volume loss and dysfunction.

It is a good idea to limit sugar consumption in your children for lots of reasons. We can add academic performance to the list. I also don’t think that this is limited to children. I would argue that work performance in adults is similarly affected. The recommendation is simple: Strictly limit sugar. Better yet, give it up entirely. This is certainly not easy to do at first but it will change your life and your health.


1) Burrows T et al, Association between selected dietary behaviors and academic achievement. A study of Australian school aged children. Appetite 2017; 116:372-80.