I was reading about different eating plans that winners of state pageants were following before gaining their titles, and it seems that a lot of them eat very lightly. They have about 6 very small meals per day, most of which try to include protein in some way.
Protein is a "macronutrient," meaning that the body needs relatively large amounts of it. But unlike fat and carbohydrates (which are also macronutrients), the body does not store protein. Therefore, it has no storage unit to draw on when it needs a new supply. For active women, it is said that the body needs to consume about two daily servings for a total of six ounces of protein.
According to WebMD, when people eat lots of protein but few carbohydrates, their metabolisms change into a state called ketosis. Ketosis means the body converts from burning carbs for fuel to burning its own fat. When fat is broken down, small bits of carbon called ketones are released into the bloodstream as energy sources. Ketosis, which also occurs in diabetes, tends to suppress appetite, causing people to eat less, and it also increases the body's elimination of fluids through urine, resulting in a loss of water weight. There are downfalls to a high protein diet, which you can read about at WebMD if you'd like.
No one really knows the effect of eating a high-protein diet over the long term, but the diet does appear to be safe and effective for up to six months. WebMD says that when it comes to feeling full, the clinical studies consistently showed that high-protein diets increase satisfaction and decrease hunger compared with high-fat or high-carbohydrate diets. In addition, most (but not all) of the studies reviewed showed that most people on high-protein diets took in about 10% less energy (roughly 200 calories) per day, which could account for at least some of the weight loss seen with this type of diet.
Some good sources of protein include:
Fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and whole grains.
As for my own diet, I do enjoy foods that are high in protein, but I'm going to have to make it a special point to add these types of foods to my day. I'll keep you posted on any changes I see by adding protein to my diet!