If you want to know how to lose weight, you need to know all about high protein. It’s the single most important nutrient for reaching your weight loss goals. Protein helps to boost your metabolism, keep you full, and regulate hormones that affect weight gain. In the health and fitness world, protein is king. New diets like low-carb and Paleo are gaining popularity because they both require a high protein intake that leads to effective weight loss results. Calories still count on a high-protein diet and you have to make sure you’re eating the right kinds of protein. But you won’t feel too restricted on a high protein diet because you’ll feel more satisfied and experience fewer cravings for unhealthy foods.
It's a common misconception that a high protein diet will lead to packing on muscle, resulting in weight gain. Protein is essential to muscle growth but it also promotes fat burning to help you lose weight and stubborn belly fat. The best sources of protein include those that are nutrient rich and low in saturated fat and calories. Stick to lean meats, beans, seafood, soy, low-fat dairy, eggs, nuts, and seeds when you’re on a high-protein diet. Try to incorporate a variety of protein sources into your meals throughout the day to provide a range of nutrients and keep you from getting tired of eating the same foods over and over again.
High protein diets also require balance. Your diet should consist of lean protein at every meal combined with “smart carbs” and healthy fats for satiety and nutrition. “Smart carbs” include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, and low-fat milk and yogurt. Many of these carbs also contain protein to help you reach your daily recommended allowance. Healthy fats in your diet should include nuts and nut butter, seeds, olives, extra virgin olive oil, fish, and avocados. The best way to manage your appetite and a variety of foods throughout the day is by eating four to five small meals or snacks instead of three large meals.
So what should your protein intake be? The daily recommended amount is 0.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight, equating to 56 grams of protein for the average sedentary male and 46 grams of protein for the average sedentary female. However, this is the minimum requirement to prevent a protein deficiency, so if you’re eating a high protein diet you’ll want to eat up to 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. If you’re still unsure, try consulting a protein calculator. Here are 7 reasons why a high protein diet is essential to weight loss.
Protein Satisfies to Save Calories
Protein is important because it helps keep you feeling fuller longer by slowing down digestion to help you feel satisfied and prevent you from eating bigger portions. This adds up to less calorie intake, leading to weight loss. Because protein causes you to eat overall fewer calories, you don’t have to worry as much about counting calories or controlling portions when you’re on a high-protein diet. People who eat a diet where 30% of their daily calories come from protein may drop their daily calorie intake by 441 calories per day, a significant amount for someone trying to lose weight.
Changes Levels of Weight Regulating Hormones
Weight is regulated by the hypothalamus in the brain. The hypothalamus processes when and how much to eat and tells you when you’re full. Many important signals to the brain come from hormones that change in response to eating and high protein intake increases levels of satiety hormones, simultaneously reducing levels of hunger hormones. If you replace carbs in your diet with fats and protein, you will reduce hunger hormones while boosting satiety hormones, resulting in a reduction in hunger. This is one of the main reasons protein helps with weight loss by automatically causing you to eat fewer calories.
Curbing cravings have a lot to do with how protein affects blood sugar levels. This is even more effective when you pair protein with carbohydrates to help slow down sugar absorption from the stomach to the bloodstream, preventing blood sugar from skyrocketing and causing cravings. Cravings are one of the biggest reasons that diets fail; they’re a dieter’s worst enemy. Late night snacking is also a major problem for people trying to lose weight. Calories before bed lead to fat gain, but a high-protein diet prevents late night cravings and the desire for a snack before bed.
Requires More Energy to Digest
A bodily process called the thermic effect of food (or TEF) is the energy that the body uses to digest food into absorbable components. Compared to carbohydrates and fats, protein has a higher TEF meaning that it requires burning more calories to digest protein than other food groups. Roughly 20-30% of calories from protein are burned while it is being digested. The energy required to digest protein also results in a boost in metabolism. This makes you burn more calories all day long, even during sleep. High protein consumption may increase calories burned by 80 to 100 per day.
Fuels Fat Burning
The body can’t burn and use fat as energy without help from carbohydrates or protein. As you lose weight, the body loses weight from both muscle and fat so it’s especially important to eat enough protein to prevent muscle loss. A high protein diet fuels fat burning while still preserving lean muscle.
Promotes Muscle Growth
Muscle is built by being broken down during a workout and then built back up bigger and stronger during recovery periods. Protein is required, especially after intense exercise, to help repair and grow your muscles. Your protein intake should be even greater on days that you exercise, and you should always have a protein snack like a protein shake right after a workout session when the muscles are most sensitive to using protein for repair and growth. Combining strength training with a high protein diet is two important components of effective fat loss plans. If you want to look lean and fit, not just skinny, then you need protein and strength training to keep your metabolism high while still gaining muscle.
Helps You Lose Weight Without Restricting Calories
Protein does two major things for people who are trying to lose weight: It reduces the number of calories you eat and increases the number of calories you burn. This is why high protein diets often lead to weight loss without having to restrict things like calories and carbs. Increasing protein intake to 30% of daily caloric intake has been proven to cause a significant drop in calories eaten during the day. High protein intake has also been associated with loss of belly fat, another major benefit for anyone looking to see visible results in their body after a few weeks of dieting. However, one of the most important benefits of high protein intake is that it not only helps with weight loss, it helps prevent regaining weight over time. Lose weight and keep it off permanently by adopting a high protein diet for the long term, not just as a temporary weight loss fix.