When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s easy to get lured in by diet fads and trendy nutrition plans. But while it’s tempting to get sucked into one weight loss program after another, we should all recognize the fact that most of these ideas are contrived to sell books or fees in some fitness club. The best way to lose weight is the tried-and-true idea of cutting calories through diet and expending more energy through exercise.

However, sometimes these fads really are based on scientific research. While most fad diets boil down to temporary water loss and pure nonsense, those based on high protein content do have some merit. Some of the popular protein-based weight loss fads take the idea a bit too far, but the basic idea behind them is definitely rooted in some truth.

Protein really does aid in weight loss efforts, for several important reasons. It regulates your blood sugar, because it is digested more slowly in your body. Energy from protein is steadily released, as opposed to energy from simple carbohydrates which is dumped into your bloodstream right away. The result is that your blood sugar doesn’t spike and drop sharply. When your blood sugar stays more even, you experience fewer energy drops and sugar cravings. You’re more motivated to exercise and less likely to hit up the nearest vending machine.

Eating more protein also helps you to build lean muscle tissue. While exercise is important in boosting your metabolism, it’s even more valuable to build muscle that burns calories 24/7. When you build muscle tissue, you actually boost your metabolism, which increases your fat burn and helps you slim down.

So here’s the short version of the story: Those protein-based fad diets are definitely rooted in some truth. However, some take the idea too far, and can cause you to omit valuable nutrients that are found in fat- and carbohydrate-based foods. Protein is an important element to a healthy diet, and it can aid weight loss efforts. But don’t take the idea so far that you forget to balance your diet. Many fad diets tend to emphasize one food, or food group, so strongly that others are dangerously neglected.

Try to get about 30 percent of your calories from lean protein, 50 percent from complex carbs, and 20 percent from healthy fats. This will ensure that you reap the benefits of the protein without neglecting the other nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy.