Is protein good for weight loss?
Although weight loss isn’t always the goal when it comes to living a balanced life, making a few changes to your diet can be a helpful way to lose weight in a healthy way. But instead of following a fad diet, why not follow the science? In that case, could simply eating more protein be good for weight loss?
Protein is a macronutrient that plays a key role in the health and normal functioning of our body. Studies have shown that it can also help us stay full longer, potentially playing a role in weight loss success.
Here we’ll discuss how protein can help with weight loss, where to find the best sources of protein in your diet, and other tips for sustainable weight loss. In the meantime, be sure to check out our guide to the best protein bars. Do you like to drink your protein in shake form? We’ve also rounded up the best protein shaker.
How is protein involved in weight loss?
Protein is a key macronutrient that plays many important roles in the body. It helps us during muscle recovery and contributes to the structure of our tissues and the general functioning of our body. Everyone needs protein in their diet to stay healthy.
“Protein is important as building blocks in the body because it helps maintain muscle mass,” says Jinan Banna, nutritionist and founder of Jinan Banna. “It also has many other functions in the body and is important for weight loss because it helps you feel full, so you don’t overeat.”
But how does protein contribute to weight loss? Well, according to a review of studies published in Frontiers in endocrinologyhigh-protein diets can help us stay full longer, use more energy, build lean muscle mass, and maintain weight loss for longer periods of time.
In a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that high-protein diets may lead to higher energy expenditure and therefore greater weight loss. “Our study has proven that the same number of calories but from different diets can cause different responses in energy metabolism,” the study co-authors said.
In other words, if you eat the same number of calories as you do now but increase the amount of those calories from protein, you can use more energy and therefore lose weight.
Another study published in Nutrition review found that people tended to eat fewer snacks between meals when on a high-protein diet. In addition, the body has a harder time storing protein as fat. So, by eating a diet with more protein, you may find that your body stores less fat over time.
How much protein should you eat to lose weight?
There is no fixed amount of protein recommended for weight loss, however, eating around 1.8 to 2.9 g of protein per kilogram each day has been shown to improve feelings of fullness and therefore help to healthier diets and weight loss over time, according to a review published in Nutrients.
This range is slightly above the government recommended protein intake. For the average person, 0.8g per kilogram each day is usually sufficient. For people who exercise regularly, the recommended amount is increased to 1.2-1.7 g per kilogram.
Try to slowly increase your protein intake by replacing processed foods or excess carbohydrates or fats with high protein foods. The best protein powder can also be helpful if you’re struggling to get enough protein from your diet.
Can we eat too much protein?
It’s important not to overdo it with your high-protein diet. If you eat too much proteinside effects can include bad breath, constipation, diarrhea, dehydration, and even some more serious health issues.
“Eating too much can mean you end up with a nutrient-deficient diet because you may not be including many of the other foods you need, like fruits and vegetables and sources of healthy fats like olive oil,” says Banna. “Our bodies need nutrients found in foods from all food groups, and overdoing it with protein can mean we’re not able to consume all of those nutrients in the right amounts.”
Always talk to your doctor before starting a new diet to make sure you don’t overdo it with your protein intake.
What are some good high-protein foods to lose weight?
While many of us immediately associate protein with meat, there are also plenty of protein sources suitable for vegans or vegetarians.
“You should vary your protein sources,” says Banna. “Fish can be included in your diet if you eat animal foods as a source of omega-3 fatty acids. Plant-based protein sources are also a healthy part of the diet, such as beans and tofu. Poultry is also a good source of protein, and red meat can also be eaten more sparingly.”
Here are some protein-rich foods to try:
- Meat: beef, pork, lamb, veal
- Poultry: chicken, duck, turkey
- Fish: salmon, haddock, prawns, mussels
Looking for more information on how to lose weight by changing what you eat? Consult our guides on how to follow a vegan diet to lose weight and how to follow a mediterranean diet to lose weight.
Other tips for successful weight loss
Changing your diet isn’t the only way to lose weight. It’s also important to make other lifestyle adjustments to achieve the healthiest weight for your body type. Here’s what the experts recommend:
- Exercise frequently: a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that a mix of cardio and strength training is best.
- Stay hydrated: Don’t confuse your thirst with hunger. Try drinking a glass of water before having a snack.
- Eat a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables (and some protein), rather than processed foods.
- Get enough sleep.
- Regularly eating skipped meals can lead to unhealthy snacking and an inefficient digestive system
Obesity can lead to a number of health issues, but it’s important to remember that everyone has a unique body type and natural weight, so don’t confuse being thin with being healthy.
If you and your doctor agree that it would be healthy for you to lose weight, it may be beneficial to discuss increasing your protein intake. Remember to continue eating other crucial foods such as fruits and vegetables in order to stay healthy and strong too.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer medical advice.