Fat loss can be a long, slow battle with too many restrictions on what you can or can’t eat. With a higher protein diet you don’t need to restrict anything to benefit. It’s all about increasing your protein intake. Eating more won’t be a problem either as protein is the single most important nutrient for weight loss — and it tastes delicious too. Here’s why you should incorporate protein in your weight loss plan.
Your body needs protein or carbohydrates to effectively burn and use fat as energy. But as the weight steadily reduces, so too will muscle mass. By consuming more protein, you’ll be able to burn fat and maintain lean muscle. Protein-rich foods also take longer to digest (about four hours) than carbohydrates, so will leave you feeling fuller for longer. A win-win all round.
Your body needs protein to exercise and build muscle. The more muscle mass, the more calories your body will burn — even when at rest — than body fat. According to WebMD, Christopher Wharton, a personal trainer and researcher at Yale University, 10 pounds of muscle burns 50 calories in a day spent at rest, while 10 pounds of fat burns 20 calories.
With this metabolism spike, you should be careful not to overeat as you will gain weight no matter whether the calories are from protein or carbohydrates. Stick to small but frequent meals or the 50 percent rule where you eat until you feel half full.
A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that participants who consumed an extra 1,000 calories a day gained weight, whether 5, 15, or 25 percent of those calories came from protein. While dieters on a low-carb plan (like Atkins, South Beach and Paleo) slimmed down. The study concluded this was down to the successful dieters cutting calories.
So how much protein is optimal? According to the Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI), adults are recommended to eat 0.75g of protein for each kilogram they weigh. So if you weigh 70kg (11 stone), you should aim to eat about 52.5g of protein a day. Or if you prefer to bypass the maths, just remember that on average men should eat 55g and women about 45g.
To sum up, whatever your diet plan, make sure while increasing your protein intake you keep on eye on calories. You’ll only lose weight if you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming. So increasing activity should be part and parcel of your weight-loss goal. As obesity expert George Bray, from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana, put it: “A brisk walk every day is probably the single most important piece of advice for anyone wanting to burn more calories.”