Eat more protein

Last reviewed: February 2011

Remember when experts thought the high-protein, low-carb Atkins diet didn't work and was dangerous? It's been more than seven years since the first studies started overturning that idea. Low-carb, high-protein diets have proved surprisingly effective, especially in the short term. And it turns out that people who eat a higher proportion of their calories from protein end up consuming fewer calories overall.

"There's currently a fair amount of evidence that protein is a more satiating nutrient than others, at least in a solid food," Mattes said.

But don't expect miracles from that approach. "It's really difficult to manipulate your protein intake markedly while eating normal foods," Mattes said.

In a major clinical trial that looked at high-protein diets, published Feb. 26, 2009, in The New England Journal of Medicine, participants didn't get their protein intake to the target level of 25 percent of total calories. But they did increase it from a baseline of 18 percent to about 21 percent.

The bottom line is that it can't hurt to substitute a bit more lean protein for some of the fat and starches in your diet.