Importance of Protein for Weight Loss
Most of us know that protein is an essential part of any healthy diet. However, did you know that it will also help you lose weight? In fact, protein can reduce your appetite and cause your body to produce hormones that will help control weight. Protein can also increase your metabolism and, while you are losing weight, can help you lose more fat and less muscle.
Protein and Appetite Reduction
Studies have found that protein consumption reduces appetite through a variety of means (as published in a study by Dominik H Pesta and Varman T Samuel). It turns out that this effect can result in people automatically reducing their total caloric intake, without even trying! When people increased their protein consumption, they started eating fewer calories. In fact, a study by David Weigle, et al, found that eating a diet consisting of 30% protein (30% of overall calories consumed), resulted in an overall decrease of more than 440 calories per day! So, eating enough protein will make it easier for you to lose weight.
Cravings & Night Time Snacking
When do you find it most difficult to control your eating? For most people, it is in the evening, between dinner and bedtime. While this isn’t the only time of day that is difficult to reduce cravings, it certainly seems to be the worst time. This is where protein adds another benefit, it reduces cravings and night time snacking! A study by Heather Leidy, et al, found that consuming even 25% of your calories from protein resulted in a reduction in night time snacking by 60% and cravings by 50%!
While you should spread protein consumption throughout your day, it seems that breakfast may, indeed, be the most important meal of the day when it comes to this nutrient. Some studies have shown that protein consumption at breakfast helps reduce cravings considerably.
Protein Increases Metabolism
Put simply, it takes more energy for your body to digest protein than it does for it to digest carbohydrates or fats. Protein boosts your metabolic rate. It increases the number of calories your body burns just to function. In fact, increased protein intake can increase the number of calories you burn in a day by approximately 80-100. Weight loss generally results in a slowing of our metabolism. Eating more protein will help to counter this effect.
Lose More Fat & Less Muscle
When people say that they want to lose weight, what they usually mean is that they want to lose fat. However, when you lose weight, fat is not the only thing you lose. You also lose muscle mass, which is not what you want. Consuming more protein can help to reduce loss of muscle mass. This will help keep your metabolism higher, which will assist with fat loss.
How Much Protein do you Need?
The minimum amount of protein that we require is approximately .8 grams per kilogram of body weight (or .36 grams per pound). However, that represents the minimum amount of protein. Consuming between 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram (.45 to .68 grams of protein per pound) will help with weight loss. To get the benefits of protein, it is best to spread consumption of it throughout the day. Lean, high protein foods include chicken breast, turkey breast, eggs, egg whites (very good source), seafood and fish, non-fat Greek yogurt, low fat cottage cheese and tofu. Of course, many other foods that we don’t think of as “high protein” foods, also provide some protein (for example, oats and broccoli are a source of protein).
If you have been wanting to lose some weight, try adding some lean protein to your daily diet. Studies have shown that people often lose weight simply by adding extra protein to their diets, as they end up eating less overall, by choice. Sound like a good ‘weigh’ to lose weight? Give it a try!