The Key Benefits of Protein for Fat Loss

Proper protein intake has shown to be very beneficial when attempting to lose fat. Some of the key benefits being its ability to aid in the preservation of lean body mass, being very satiating, and having one of the highest thermic effects (TEF). Below, I go over these 3 key benefits in more detail hoping to increase your knowledge on the importance of protein intake when fat loss is the goal.

Benefit 1: High Protein Intake
– High (but not excessive) protein intake has shown to help preserve lean mass while dieting (Edda Cava et al. 2016). While in a caloric deficit it is very important to preserve lean muscle mass considering it is a huge determinant of RMR (resting metabolic rate) and RMR accounts for around 60-75% of Total Daily Energy Expenditure. In short, the higher your muscle mass the higher your RMR and the higher your RMR the higher your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (which means you can have a higher caloric intake/eat more without gaining weight). Preserving lean muscle mass while dieting is very important and high protein intake has been shown to do just that.

Benefit 2: Proteins High Satiety Effect
– Protein is known for its ability to help you achieve fullness quicker (Higher protein meals and/or foods being more satiating than high carbohydrate and high fat meals/foods). The quicker we can achieve a feeling of fullness the less we are likely to eat. The less we eat, the more fat we lose (provided we are doing everything else right).

Benefit 3: Proteins High TEF
– Protein has a very high TEF (thermic effect of food) at around 25% (compared to Fats- 1-3% and Carbs- 6-8%). For example, for every 100 calories of protein you eat, about 25 calories are used during the digestion process. This has not shown to have a significant effect however it is definitely worth mentioning considering it does effect the calories out/calories expended side of the energy balance equation (helping us achieve a negative energy balance).

In summary, protein is beneficial for fat loss in that it can aid in preserving lean body mass, be very satiating (helping us achieve fullness quicker), and has a high TEF (thermic effect of food). Because of these benefits it would be very beneficial (for our fat loss efforts) to keep track of/be aware of our protein intake (ensuring we are getting in proper daily intakes). Below are some general intake recommendations for protein.

General Protein Intake Recommendations

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics..

– 10-35% (~25%) of calories should come from protein.

For an individual with a daily caloric intake of 2,300 calories, 575 of those calories should come from protein. (2,300×.25=575)

– It is also recommended that around age 50, we increase our protein intake to 1g of protein per kilogram of body weight (or ~2.2g per pound) to maintain muscle mass.

For a 55 year old individual weighing 165 lbs (165÷2.2=75kg), 75g of protein would be sufficient to maintain muscle mass.

– For those that are physically active it is recommended to take in 1.2-1.7g per kilogram of bodyweight or .5-.8g per pound of body weight

For an active individual weighing 180 lbs, 90-144g would be a sufficent protein intake
(180×.5=90g/180×.8=144g)

Note & Disclaimer:
There are many factors that influence these numbers, (the proper intake will vary per individual) and it is very important to understand that these are only general recommendations. I am not a licensed dietician nor a nutritionist and this article is intended for educational purposes only.

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