PROTEIN FOR WEIGHT LOSS?
When we traditionally think of eating protein, many of us envision musclebound bodybuilders chugging gallons of shakes and eating pounds of steak and chicken. Yes, for those of us looking to increase our strength or muscle mass, protein is vital for providing the necessary building blocks. However, did you know that protein is just as important when it comes to weight loss? Here’s why:
- Thermic effect of food – We burn calories as we digest and absorb the food we eat; this process is called the thermic effect of food. Protein has a thermic effect of food that’s 30% higher, compared to foods that are higher in carbs and fat. Protein actually allows us to burn more calories.
- Sparing lean tissue – When we talk about “weight loss”, what we really mean is “fat loss” as the goal. As we lose weight, some of it is inevitably from lean tissue. However, by eating adequate amounts of protein, we preserve that lean tissue, allowing for a greater percentage of the weight loss to come from fat.
- Satiety – Protein helps us feel full during and after our meals. It fills up our stomach without excessive calories and also provides hormone signaling to our brain that we’ve had enough.
So, how much protein should you eat each day? To give a blanket recommendation simply isn’t feasible. It depends on your specific situation (age, weight, body fat %, health conditions, physical activity, etc.). What we can say is that it’s probably more than you think, and certainly more than the current RDA. To keep it simple, it’s a good idea to include a source of lean protein with each meal/snack you eat throughout the day. That would be a good start.