Over the past eight months I’ve lost 50 pounds by eating only low-calorie foods and walking daily. But a recent fat-composition test revealed I’m still at 35 percent body fat! My friend thinks I’m not getting enough protein, but it doesn’t always fit into my low-calorie plan. Do I need to eat more meat?

Adding protein to your diet can help jump-start your fat loss (while keeping calorie-burning muscle mass intact). In a study at the University of Washington at Seattle, people with a diet of 30 percent protein lost an average of 11 pounds, 8 of them from fat. Plus, subjects consumed 441 fewer calories per day than when they were on a diet of 15 percent protein, thanks to protein’s satiating effects. The great news is that you don’t have to eat fatty meats (which have the downside of elevating cholesterol). In fact, protein sources such as eggs, couscous, green leafy vegetables (like spinach and romaine lettuce) and soy (such as miso and tofu) are all rich in a superior fat-burning amino acid called leucine. Three to five servings of leucine-rich foods a day will provide the slim down-speeding benefit.

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