There are many tools we can use to aid us in our efforts to lose weight and keep it off.
Though some strategies are more effective and/or important than others (energy balance and sustainability being key!), there are other strategies that can still help us better achieve our weight loss goals.
It must always be remembered that if caloric deficit and sustainability of a strategy are not accounted for within a weight loss plan, nothing else is going to make much of a difference.
Without a caloric deficit, we will not lose weight.
And without sustainability, we will not keep the weight off.
With that being said, proper protein intake can be very beneficial for both weight loss and weight loss maintenance.
So, prioritizing your daily protein intake may aid you in better achieving your weight loss goals.
Some of the key benefits being;
1. Its ability to aid in the preservation of lean body mass when dieting
2. Being very satiating (filling) relative to carbs and fats
3. Having one of the highest thermic effects (the amount of calories used to digest the food)
Below, we will go over these 3 key benefits in more detail hoping to increase your knowledge on the importance of protein intake when weight loss is the goal.
The Benefits of Protein Intake for Weight Loss
Benefit 1: Preservation of lean body mass while dieting
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 high satiety factor/ it’s ability to help you achieve a feeling of fullness more quickly. Higher protein meals and/or foods are found to be more satiating compared to high carbohydrate and/or high fat meals/foods (fiber not being included).
The quicker we can achieve a feeling of fullness the less food we are likely to continue to eat. The less food that we eat, the lesser the chance of weight gain and the greater the chance of weight loss and/or weight maintenance.
Obviously, other tips such as eating more slowly, eating an adequate amount of fiber, and possibly using smaller plates and/or bowls will need to be implemented with this adequate protein intake to have the full satiety effect.
Benefit 3: Proteins High TEF (Thermic effect of food)
Protein has a very high TEF (thermic effect of food) at around 25% (compared to Fats- 0-3% and Carbs- 5-10%).
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 worth mentioning, considering it does affect the energy expenditure side of the energy balance equation (possibly helping us, if even in a very small way, achieve a negative energy balance).
In summary, protein is beneficial for weight loss in that it can;
1. Aid in preserving lean body mass while dieting
2. Has shown to have a high satiety factor (compared with fat and carbohydrate, less fiber).
3. Has one of the highest thermic effects of the macronutrients
Because of these benefits it would be very beneficial (for our weight loss efforts) to keep track of/be aware of our protein intake (ensuring we are getting in our proper daily intake).
Though these 3 benefits of protein are not going to make or break your weight loss efforts by themselves, they can be a useful addition when put together with other effective weight loss strategies.
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 sufficient protein intake
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 dietitian nor a nutritionist and this article is intended for educational purposes only.
I hope that you found this article helpful and that you’re now more aware of how protein intake may be a useful tool 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!