Fitness trainers, nutritionists, and weight loss experts seem to be shouting from the mountain tops, protein for weight loss! Is this something you should really consider; or is it some type of fad? What does the science say? That is always the question you want to ask yourself. In regard to protein for weight loss, or any other big claim please don’t follow the herd unless what they are recommending is currently backed by sound scientific evidence.
Protein is good. Carbs are evil. Haven’t you heard this? Today we see more protein bars, and powders on store shelves. The promotion of eating protein for fat loss is alive, and well. Fitness buffs are told to ingest 30 grams of whey protein within hours after a hard strength training session. Are we being led down the wrong path?
Yes, the scientific evidence shows that eating more protein can lead to weight loss. Why you may ask? Does protein have magic fat burning properties? Heck no! However, there are three distinct reasons why you should be consuming more protein in order to help lose weight.
Why Eating Protein Can Help in Losing Fat
- Increases the thermic effect of eating. This simply means burning more calories from digestion. To keep it simple, it takes more energy (calories) to digest a gram of protein than it does a gram of fat, or carbohydrates. Therefore, you are burning more calories when you eat protein versus carbs, or fats. That’s good news!
- Eating protein for weight loss keeps you full longer so you won’t want to binge on highly palatable carbohydrates. Staying full longer means eating less calories throughout the day. This, of course, leads to losing fat over time. Consuming protein equals greater satiety.
- Maintain metabolically active muscle tissue while in a caloric deficit. In order to lose weight you must be in a caloric deficit. While cutting calories over time you not only lose fat, but also metabolically active muscle. Eating a sufficient amount of protein over the course of the day will decrease your chances of losing valuable metabolically active muscle tissue. Complete proteins with the sufficient amount of the amino acid Leucine triggers muscle protein synthesis to help maintain muscle while cutting calories. Please note that strength training plus enough protein over the day will help maintain valuable calorie burning muscle.
What type of protein? When? How much?
I always recommend clients who do not have kidney disease to consume approximately between 20-30 grams of protein at each meal. That way enough will be consumed throughout the day especially from eating 3 meals per day.
Complete protein consists of the following foods: chicken, beef, turkey, fish, dairy products such as milk/cheese, eggs, and rice/beans mixed together. Of course, a good whey protein power can be used for convenience to make sure you there is enough protein for weight loss, and muscle maintenance.
How much? To make things simple so you don’t have to count grams of protein I recommend men eat two palm sizes of protein. Women should consume the quantity of one palm size of protein.
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