How Eating More Protein Helps You Lose Weight
Protein is a single most important nutrient for weight loss and improving body composition the reason is due to several different mechanisms which I’m going to look at in this article now. After you eat, some of the calories are used for the purpose of digesting and metabolizing the food. This is often terms of thermic effect of food now although not all sources agree on the exact figures it’s clear that protein has a much higher thermic effect about twenty to thirty percent compared to carbs which are five to ten percent and fat which is zero to three percent.
If you go with a thermic effect of 30 percent for protein this means that 100 calories of protein only ends up as 70 usable calories in the body this in part helps to boost your metabolism. A so-called boosted or increased metabolism helps you burn more calories around the clock even when you sleep, Combined with several other factors a high protein intake has been shown to boost metabolism and increase the amount of calories burned by about 80 to 100 per day. Now by making you burn more calories high-protein diets have a metabolic advantage over diets that are lower in protein. Protein reduces appetite and makes you eat fewer calories. Protein can reduce hunger and appetite.
Why are several different mechanisms? How can this can lead to an automatic reduction in your calorie intake which is really important for weight loss? numerous studies have shown that when people increase their protein intake they start eating fewer calories. This works on a milder meal basis as well as a sustained day-to-day reduction in calorie intake as long as protein intake is kept high.
In one study protein at 30 percent calories cause people automatically drop their calorie intake by 441 calories per day. which is a huge amount so high-protein diets not only have a metabolic advantage they also have an appetite advantage making it much easier to cut calories compared to wild protein diet protein makes you lose weight and helps you keep it up.
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Protein works on both sides of the calories in calories out equation so it helps you take fewer calories in and helps you push more calories out for this reason. it’s not surprising to see that high protein diet lead to weight loss even without intentionally restricting calories portions. Fat or carbs now all that being said losing weight is not the most important factor anyway. it’s keeping it off in the long term that really counts. Most people can go on a diet and lose weight. but most end up gaining the weight back. Studies show that a higher protein intake can help prevent weight regain and one study a modest increase in protein intake from 15 to 18% of calories reduce weight regain after weight loss by 50%. So not only can protein help you lose weight, it can also help you keep it off in the long term.
Protein helps prevent muscle loss and metabolic slowdown this is a really critical point for you to remember. Weight loss does not always equal fat loss when you lose weight muscle mass tends to be lost as well. This is a side effect of weight loss you don’t want because a loss of muscle mass leads to a reduced metabolic rate or metabolism. So in other words you end up burning fuel calories than you did before you lost the weight. This is one of the main reasons weight loss plateaus your body adjusts to a lower calorie intake by burning fuel calories itself. Now this is often referred to as starvation mode which was beneficial back in the hunter-gatherer days when food was scarce. Eating plenty of protein can reduce muscle loss which should help keep your metabolic rate higher as you lose body fat. strength training is another major factor that can reduce muscle loss and metabolic slowdown when losing weight.
Now muscle growth is stimulated and supported by protein consumption so for this reason our high protein intake and weight training or also known as resistance training are two incredibly important components of an effective weight loss plan. When it comes to fat loss and building muscle protein is the king of nutrients by replacing many foods in your diet with higher protein alternatives you tip the calories in versus calories out balanced in your favor. Just keep in mind that calories still count now. Protein can be really beneficial but you won’t lose anyway if you don’t eat fewer calories than you burn.
More Vs Less Protein for Weight Loss
When it comes to muscle, we generally understand the vital role protein consumption plays. After all, the driving force for muscle growth is aptly named muscle PROTEIN synthesis. We typically stress the importance of protein in times of bulking, where one intentionally puts on weight in hopes that, much of the added weight results in muscle. What we don’t talk about as much is if we’re to try to lose weight, especially fat, then what do we do about our protein? Common wisdom again is to eat more protein, this time for the sake of preserving muscle instead of building. In fact, some research suggests you should be eating MORE protein during weight loss than you would during a bulk. But, to further promote its importance, what if we were to find out that more protein also helps you burn more fat? A 2016 study helped shed additional light on this matter.
In this 4-week study, 40 overweight and recreationally active (some form of physical activity 1-2x week) young men were split into two groups. Both groups had the same weight loss diet and given the same weekly 6-day exercise protocol consisting of resistance, aerobic, and anaerobic training. The only difference between the two groups is the experimental protein shakes they were given three to four times a day. One group was given a shake that pushed their total daily protein intake to grams per kilogram of bodyweight. The other group was given twice as much protein at 2.4. After 4 weeks, what did they find in terms of body composition? With such an extreme weight loss diet at 40% calorie reduction, both groups unsurprisingly lost a solid amount of weight, but no significant differences between the two groups. In terms of lean body mass, the lower protein group remained largely unchanged, suggesting grams or protein per kg of bodyweight is sufficient in preserving muscle.
Looking at the 2.4-gram group, we actually see a noticeable increase in overall lean mass. This result highlights an important aspect in its own right. Assuming some of the lean mass gained is muscle, the result proposes that we can indeed build muscle and lose weight simultaneously granted that we eat enough protein. And finally, let’s take a look at fat mass. Seeing that the lower protein group lost zero lean mass, it can only mean that all of the weight lost was from fat, as we see here.
As for the higher protein group, if they indeed gained lean mass yet lost roughly the same amount of weight as the lower protein group, then it only means that they had to compensate by losing even more fat. And indeed, that’s exactly what we see and exactly what we hoped for. Now, there are some limitations though. First, this is only one study. Fortunately, we do have plenty of research that indicates the importance of protein consumption for muscle preservation, which this study only reinforces. Another limitation is the overweight and untrained subjects used. It is not much of a secret that, given a decent resistance training program and adequate protein, untrained, overweight individuals can, for a short period, burn fat and gain muscle at the same time. Whether the results of this study apply to trained individuals remains to be seen. My hunch is no, given a trained individual’s more tight-knit body composition looming closer to their genetic limitations.
On that note, having an effective exercise program is equally as important in order to stimulate the muscles for growth. But ultimately, our question seems to be heading to a clearer answer. If you want to burn more fat during weight loss, eating MORE protein instead of less, might not only help you preserve or build muscle, but help you shed more of that funky fat as well.