Protein Hunger and Overeating

Supermarket shelves are full of processed foods
Supermarket shelves are full of processed foods (source)

New research supports the idea that lack of protein leads to overeating. Researchers from the University of Sydney followed the dietary habits of almost 10 000 Australians for one year. They found that people eat to get enough protein, so when their food is low in protein, they must eat a greater quantity. This is sometimes called “protein hunger.”

Eating more of the food that is prevalent in modern supermarkets, i.e. processed food, also means eating more calorie-dense types of food. That amounts to eating lots of fat and sugar.

According to the study, people who ate less protein at breakfast, ate more food throughout the rest of the day. They also tended to snack more and eat fewer healthy foods. In contrast, people who ate enough protein at breakfast, ate less food later in the day.

It makes sense that our bodies want protein because it does many things for us. Protein is important for building muscle, for repairing tissue damage, for enzymes that digest food, and for much more.

If you are looking to increase the protein in your diet, it is in fish and meat of course, but there are plenty of other sources of protein. Those include Greek yogurt, tofu, eggs, peanut butter, whole grains, and beans.


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Worksheet with activities


Hear the article spoken:

Useful Language

  • Lack (n) - not having enough of something
  • Dietary (adj) - relating to the food people eat
  • Prevalent (adj) - common
  • Dense (adj) - having a lot of something
  • Tissue (n) - the cells the make up the different parts of humans, animals, and plants
  • Enzyme (n) - a substance that helps a chemical change happen
  • Digest (v) - to process food in your stomach
  • Source (n) - where something comes from


Discuss the following questions with your partner(s).

  1. What did you think about this story? Was there any surprising information?
  2. Why do you eat?
  3. How important is breakfast to you? What do you usually have for breakfast?
  4. Do you think you get enough protein? What foods do you get your protein from?
  5. Which high-in-protein food is the most delicious?
  6. Which healthy foods do you eat enough of?
  7. Which unhealthy foods do you eat too much of?
  8. What does your life lack?
  9. Why do people eat so much processed food?
  10. In your opinion, what is the best snack food?