The benefits of a high protein diet
There seems to be a never-ending debate among fitness enthusiasts.
It’s always about eating low-carb and high-fat or high-carb, low-fat.
But lost in this discussion is protein, particularly the amount of protein we should eat when in a calorie deficit.
For some reason, it gets completely ignored.
We have been told that carbohydrates can make you gain weight by raising your insulin even if you are in a calorie deficit. FYI, that’s not true.
As for fat, before carbs and sugar were deemed the devil’s food, fats were the bad boys on the block. Who remembers when eggs were bad for you?
Of course, these two macronutrients are essential for our health as they help with many of our body’s functions.
For example, carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source and power high-intensity exercise.
Fat is essential for the absorption of vitamins A, D, and E. While also supplying us with a lot of energy, mainly during low-intensity activities.
But what about protein?
See, proteins are involved in practically every process in our bodies. Insulin, enzymes, and antibodies are just a few examples of proteins in the body.
There’s also the issue that out of the 20 amino acids needed to create a complete protein, 9 of them cannot be produced by the body and therefore are essential. Meaning you have to get them from your diet.
Protein is very, very important.
Especially when trying to lose weight.
The calories you cut out from your diet have to come from somewhere, mainly from fats and carbs.
Reducing the amount of fat and carbs we eat in our diets will force the body to use protein as an energy source. (1)
That’s why when trying to reach your weight loss goals; you need to make sure you eat enough protein, as it will not only help power many functions within your body, but it will also make your weight loss journey a lot easier.
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Four benefits of a high protein diet:
1. Lean Body Mass Retention
Not eating enough protein while on a diet can lead to a loss of muscle mass.
As we stated in our “How to keep your metabolism high when losing weight” article, one of the strategies to prevent your metabolism from taking a dip is to retain as much lean body mass as possible.
2. Highest Thermic Effect
Protein has the highest thermic effect of the macronutrients.
The body burns between 25 and 30% of calories from protein to aid in digestion.
That means that if you were to eat 100 calories of protein, the body would use between 25 and 30 of those calories just for digestion.
A study by Oliviera et al. found that those in which 40% of their calories came from protein burned 81 more calories than those whose only 15% of calories came from protein.
That’s right. You can burn more calories if you eat more protein.
Protein also helps you eat fewer calories.
Let’s take a look at the following study:
A study in 2006 compared the effects on ghrelin (the hunger hormone) between a high-protein meal, a high-fat meal, and a high-carb meal.
Although all three meals suppressed ghrelin at the 3-hour mark, the high protein group had significantly lower ghrelin levels in their blood than in the other groups.
The high-protein group had 50% lower ghrelin levels than the high-carb group and 35% lower than the high-fat group.
That means that loading up on protein can help you feel less hungry throughout the day.
Those findings complement another study in which researchers found that when calories are the same, a high-protein diet makes you feel fuller than a low-protein diet.
See? The fuller you are, the less you’ll eat. BAM.
4. It will help you keep the weight off.
The retention of muscle mass is essential to prevent weight regain.
A 2020 study found that those who lost more muscle tended to have a greater appetite than those who kept more muscle mass. (3)
Nobody wants to lose weight and then gain it all back. A high protein diet will help you keep those pounds off.
Okay, okay, you made your point. So…
“How much protein should I eat?”
That depends on your weight and how far or close you are to reaching your goal.
Those of average to lower body fat percentage should eat more protein to preserve lean body mass.
Aim for about a gram per pound of body weight.
i.e., 190 lbs x 1= 190 grams of protein
Those who have a higher body fat percentage:
Women: Above 32%
Men: Above 25%
Should aim for at least .7 grams per pound of body weight.
i.e., 300 lbs x .7= 210 grams of protein
“But I heard that high protein diets are very unhealthy.”
The next time someone tries to tell you that you should eat fewer carbs and more fat or vice-versa, remind them that protein is the most important factor for weight loss next to calories.
Studies show that when calories and protein are equal, a high-fat diet and a high-carb diet yield the same fat loss. (1)
A high protein diet is crucial to losing weight and massive when it comes to preventing you from gaining all the weight back. It is also vital to ensure all bodily functions operate smoothly.
Are you struggling to lose weight? “The complete fat loss guide” teaches you how to lose weight and how to keep the pounds from ever coming back.