People generally associate protein with weight loss.
First, it’s important to know the role protein plays in the body. Protein is an organic compound which has large molecules composed of one or more long chains of amino acids. These amino acids are highly essential and help build muscle tissue, facilitate cellular repair and its part of the structural components of body tissues like muscle, hair, etc., and as enzymes and antibodies. Protein also part of the big three macronutrients, protein, fat and carbohydrate.
If you are trying to lose weight, then protein should be the main component on your plate. However, protein is not a magic pill or food type that causes weight loss, it is only effective when combined with other factors such as exercising, calorie intake and body type.
Protein has a higher thermic effect of food (TEF) which means it requires a more energy to break down and digest food into absorbable components. This means that protein burns more calories than other food groups when it’s being digested compared to carbs and fat.
Protein helps you stay satisfied and feel fuller longer. This is important because it curbs cravings and saves calories.
When comparing the effect of protein and carbohydrate on blood sugar level, carbs tend to spike blood sugar levels, compared to protein-rich foods that slow down the absorption of sugar from the stomach into the bloodstream. This prevents spikes in your blood sugar and discourages future cravings.
Eating protein-rich foods fuels fat burning. Generally speaking, your body cannot effectively burn and use fat as energy without help from carbohydrate or protein. Your body loses both muscle and fat during the process of weight loss. However, protein sustains the fat burning process while preserving calorie-burning lean muscle.
In the same process, as stated above, protein promotes muscle repair and growth. After an intense workout session or strength training, having a high protein snack right after helps the muscle to repair and grow.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN IS TOO MUCH PROTEIN?
One important thing to realize is, simply because eating more protein facilitates weight loss, doesn’t require you consume excessive amounts of it. Consuming excessive protein can lead to weight gain just like eating excess carbs or fat would. It can also put unnecessary strain on the kidneys over a long period of time.
There have been a few rare cases where eating a lot of proteins have been deadly. This could be caused by underlying medical conditions like urea cycle disorder, kidney disease, etc.
In addition to the potential risks, protein alone cannot sustain the entire body. Protein foods do not have all the nutrients we need for a healthy body. A balanced diet consisting of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats should fit into your weight-loss diet. The recommended amount of protein per meal 25 to 30 grams—that’s the amount your body utilize per meal – eating more than that simply goes to waste.
Breakfast is the best time to focus on getting enough protein.
HOW PROTEIN CAN AID YOU LOSE WEIGHT NATURALLY
A high protein intake as seen above boosts metabolism, reduces appetite and changes several weight-regulating hormones.
Protein can help you lose weight and belly fat, by changing the levels of certain weight-regulating hormones. Your weight is actively regulated by your brain, particularly an area called the hypothalamus. It sends signals to determine when to eat and when to stop eating.
A higher protein intake helps you lose weight by increasing the levels of the satiety (appetite-reducing) hormones GLP-1, peptide YY and cholecystokinin while reducing your levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. This change leads to a reduction in hunger and enables you to consume fewer calories automatically.
In order to lose weight, aim for 25-35% of calories as protein. 30% of calories amounts to 150 grams of protein on a 2000-calorie diet. Your goal should be to integrate protein-rich food into your life and nutrition for a sustainable weight loss. It’s a brilliant idea to switch up your protein foods.
GOOD SOURCES OF PROTEIN
Here are good examples of protein-rich foods. They include the following:
- Meats: Chicken, turkey, lean beef, pork, etc.
- Fish: Salmon, sardines, etc.
- Eggs: All types.
- Dairy: Milk, cheese, yoghurt, etc.
- Legumes: Kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, Spinach etc.
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, peanuts, etc.
- Light Canned Tuna
- Beans, Soy
- Low-fat dairy
- While you’re including protein to your diet, you should also stock up on “smart carbs” such as:
- Whole grains
- Extra virgin olive oil and canola oil
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