With so many diets on the market these days, it can be difficult to make heads or tails of which diet actually works. The majority of the diets we encounter today seem to focus on eating low carb and counting calories, but experts and researchers agree that protein is the single most important nutrient for weight loss. Why is protein so prized and does it really help you lose weight? Here are the reasons why a diet high in protein can be the key to successful weight loss.
1. Protein Fuels Fat Burning
It may be surprising, but it is a scientific fact that your body cannot effectively burn and use fat as energy if it doesn’t have the help from either a carbohydrate or protein. As you are losing weight, your body loses both muscle and fat. During this process it is especially important that you consume enough protein in your diet. Having adequate protein coming in from your food, fuels fat burning while preserving calorie-burning lean muscle. A win-win all around.
2. Protein Reduces Appetite & Saves on Calories
Thanks to the natural appetite suppressant effect of the ketone bodies, compounds that are produced as by-products when fatty acids are broken down for energy, the sensation of hunger disappears. By eating lean proteins, you will actually feel fuller for much longer. Protein-rich foods, because of the time of process, stay longer in our stomach, which leaves us feeling fuller for a longer period of time. This helps curb hunger cravings and keeps us from overeating.
3. Protein Prevents Muscle Loss and Provides Muscle Growth
Your body uses the amino acids in protein to build lean muscle, which makes your stronger and more toned. Proteins are the building blocks of the body.
Without the consumption of protein, our bodies would find it impossible to adequately build the muscles we need to function. Plus, the more lean muscle our bodies have, the more calories our bodies are capable of burning just performing everyday tasks.
Weight loss doesn’t always equal fat loss. When you lose weight, muscle mass tends to be reduced as well. However what you really want to lose is body fat. Losing muscle is a side effect of weight loss that most people don’t want. Eating plenty of protein can reduce muscle loss. For this reason, a high protein diet is an important component of an effective fat loss plan.
4. Protein Speeds up Metabolism
Due to the high thermic effect, a diet that is higher in protein diet tends to boost metabolism. High protein foods take more work to digest, metabolize, and use, which means you burn more calories processing them. By making you burn more calories, higher protein diets have a “metabolic advantage” over diets that are lower in protein.
5. How Much Protein Is Optimal?
According to the DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) the daily grams of protein recommended for a women is 46 grams and for a man 56 grams. This amount may be enough to prevent deficiency, however a growing number of nutritionists believe the DRI numbers are way too low, it is far from optimal if you are trying to lose weight or gain muscle. When attempting to lose weight, experts recommend individuals consume 120 grams of protein a day.
When observing the minimum amount of protein needed daily, a surprising number of people don’t get enough in their diet. The most recent data from the USDA shows that up to 1/3 of the women from ages 20-40 don’t get the recommended daily allowance of protein. This is understandable due to people’s busy lives and the fact that protein isn’t as easy to grab on the go as other foods. Typically, when it is consumed, it is usually fried or unhealthy. It is just a fact that our essential proteins, fish, meat, and beans, often take more time to prepare thus are not as convenient as eating other foods. Protein on the go isn’t usually easy to find and, it can often be confusing to decide which proteins are best for you.
Whatever your diet plan is, make sure to get your daily intake of proteins and control your carb intake and just watch that extra weight fall off.