If you’re like most dieters, you’ve tried dozens of strategies in the hopes of losing weight.
You’ve seen that some strategies produce results while others are simply gimmicks.
One you may have heard mentioned quite frequently though, is to eat more protein. And that is the strategy that we’re going to go over today.
We’re going to cover the 3 key benefits of protein for weight loss, illuminating the power of this macronutrient.
Now, while some strategies are more effective and/or important than others (e.g, energy balance and sustainability), there are other strategies that can be quite useful. And prioritizing protein intake is definitely one of them.
The key benefits of protein for weight loss that we’ll be discussing today are;
- Proteins ability to aid in the preservation of lean body mass while dieting.
- Its ability to make you feel full.
- And lastly, its high thermic effect.
The hope of this article is to increase your knowledge on the importance of protein intake for weight loss so that you can begin to use it to your advantage.
So, let’s get right into it!
The Benefits of Protein for Weight Loss
Number 1: Preservation of lean body mass while dieting
Moderate to high protein intake has shown to help preserve healthy muscle while dieting (Edda Cava et al. 2016).
The most obvious reason for holding onto muscle is to look lean and muscular. However, keeping your hard earned muscle is also very important for another reason.
Muscle mass is a huge determinant of Resting Metabolic Rate. In other words, the more muscle you have the higher your RMR will be.
Resting metabolic rate accounts for around 60% of your Total Daily Energy Expenditure, so it is definitely worth your time and effort to focus on.
Okay, so why does that matter for you and your efforts to lose weight? Well, the more calories that your body expends the more calories that you can eat without gaining weight.
Two individuals who weigh the same but have different body compositions will require a different amount of calories. The individual with more muscle mass will have a higher daily energy expenditure because they have more active tissue (muscle).
This means that the leaner individual can eat more calories without putting on weight.
If you’re not prioritizing your protein intake already, I would advise that you begin doing so today.
Begin by simply adding in more lean meats, eggs, low-fat dairy products, and nuts into your daily diet.
Each meal should provide a sufficient amount of protein (general recommendations provided at the end of the article).
Number 2: Proteins High Satiety Effect
Protein is known for its high satiety factor (a foods ability to produce fullness).
Higher protein foods are found to be more satiating compared to high carbohydrate (except fiber) and/or high fat foods.
Why is this important?
Well, the quicker we can achieve a feeling of fullness the less food we are likely to eat.
Think about eating a large turkey breast versus eating the same amount of calories in bread or nuts. Most individuals are going to achieve fullness much quicker with the turkey breast.
If we can manage to eat smaller and/or less frequent meals we can better achieve our weight loss goals.
Obviously, other tips will need to be implemented with this to have the greatest satiety effect, e.g, eating more slowly, eating adequate fiber, and using smaller eating ware.
The key is grouping together multiple logical and practical strategies. Together their effects compound and produce significant results.
If you find yourself frequently getting hungry between meals try adding in some more protein rich foods to aid in satiety.
Number 3: Proteins High TEF (Thermic effect of food)
Protein has a very high thermic effect at around 25% (compared to Fats: 0-3% and Carbs: 5-10%).
For example, for every 100 calories of protein that you eat, about 25 calories are used during the processes of digestion, absorption and utilization.
This has not shown to have a significant effect, however, it is definitely worth mentioning considering that it affects energy expenditure in favor of a negative energy balance.
Weight loss is a tough feat so we need to take all the help that we can get.
By simply eating more protein you will burn more calories.
Losing weight can be a tough thing to do. Too many of us continue to bypass effective strategies for useless ones.
One of the most common strategies I see overlooked is getting in sufficient protein.
As we have covered in this article, the 3 key benefits of protein [for fat loss] are;
1. Its ability to aid in preserving lean body mass while dieting
2. Its high satiety factor (compared with fat and carbohydrate)
3. Its high thermic effect
Now, while protein intake is not going to make or break your weight loss efforts by itself it can be a useful addition when put together with other effective weight loss strategies.
Below are some general intake recommendations for protein.
General Protein 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 we increase our protein intake to 1 g of protein per kilogram of body weight (or ~2.2 g per pound) at age 50 to maintain muscle mass.
For a 55 year old individual weighing 165 lbs (165÷2.2=75 kg), 75 g of protein would be sufficient to maintain muscle mass.
The recommendation for physically active individuals is 1.2-1.7 g per kilogram of body weight or 0.5-0.8 g per pound of body weight.
An active individual weighing 180 lbs would have an average intake of 90-144 g of protein.
(180×.5=90 g/180×.8=144 g)
Note & Disclaimer:
There are many factors that influence these numbers and it is very important to understand that these are only general recommendations. I am not a licensed dietitian nor a nutritionist.
I hope that you’ve found this article helpful and that you’re now more aware of how protein intake can help you in your weight loss efforts!
If so, please feel free to like, share, and/or comment!
Best of luck with all your fitness goals!
Keep pushing towards that leaner, stronger, healthier version of yourself!