Protein Power: The Key to Shredding Fat and Staying Lean
Protein is the most important macro to hit. It provides structure for your body’s tissues and organs, and also builds and repairs your muscles and other connective tissues. In other words, protein is essential to build and maintain muscle.
MOST people largely undereat protein because the standard diet is full of processed carbs and fats. Cookies, chips, and cake, anyone!? And when dining out, protein is often served in pretty small portion sizes and many times doused in fatty dressings and cooking oils, making their macro profile lean a lot further towards a fat source rather than a pure protein source.
In today's post, we are breaking down the 5 reasons that a high-protein diet is what we recommend for fat loss and keeping fat off long term.
1. Increased Thermogenesis: Protein has a higher thermic effect of food (TEF) compared to carbohydrates and fats. This means that the body expends more energy (calories) to digest and process protein. As a result, a higher proportion of the calories from protein is used in the digestion process. Looking at the figure below, by no means is TEF the majority of the calories we burn each day, but over time, this 5-10% from TEF can make an impact on our body composition.
Source of Daily Calories Burned
2. Appetite Regulation: Protein has been shown to be more satiating than carbohydrates or fats, meaning it helps you feel fuller for longer. This can lead to reduced overall calorie intake, making it easier for individuals to maintain a calorie deficit (consuming fewer calories than the body expends), which is crucial for fat loss. This is why we encourage folks who don't want to track all of their food to focus on eating enough protein. Because, naturally, they will consume less calories from carbs and fats, like what can be found in processed foods.
3. Preservation of Lean Body Mass: When you're in a calorie deficit for fat loss, there's a risk of losing not just fat but also muscle mass. Protein is essential for muscle maintenance and repair, and a high-protein diet can help preserve lean body mass during weight loss. Plus, preserving muscle mass is important for maintaining a higher basal metabolic rate (see figure above) and overall body composition.
4. Increased Energy Expenditure: Higher protein intake has been associated with increased energy expenditure. This can be attributed to the energy cost of metabolizing protein (TEF) and the fact that a higher protein intake can promote physical activity and exercise, further contributing to fat loss.
5. Blood Sugar Regulation: Protein can help regulate blood sugar levels, leading to more stable energy levels and reduced cravings for sugary or high-calorie foods. This can contribute to better adherence to a calorie-controlled diet. Again, satiety from protein is so important! The body is nourished and feels full from getting in enough protein and the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) we get from consuming whole food protein like meat and dairy.
If you’re consistently short on protein, first make sure protein is represented at each
meal. Next, increasing your protein serving sizes, add more protein to your snacks, and
also supplement with a whey protein powder.
Also, make sure to eat protein at breakfast! Eggs only have 6g per egg. Add on egg whites,
eat your dinner leftover meat the next morning, and teach your palate your new way of
eating instead of reaching for sugary cereal and less than optimal pop tarts + waffles.
It's important to note that while a high-protein diet can be beneficial for fat loss, it's not a magic solution on its own. Overall dietary balance, physical activity, and individual factors play crucial roles in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. It's also essential to consult with a healthcare or nutrition professional before making significant changes to your diet, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.