No, this is NOT a review for the latest “fad” diet plan telling you to only eat eggs and cottage cheese to lose weight! It is, however, going to reveal how protein and weight loss work go hand in hand and the best choices you should be making to enhance your weight loss efforts.
Without getting to technical, let me explain a little about protein. It’s made up of amino acids, known as “the building blocks of protein.” Your body can make some of the amino acids, but the rest must come from your diet.
Protein plays an important role in your diet, just as carbs and fats do. Without protein you body simply couldn’t function. With more than 10,000 proteins in the human body, it’s vital that you replenish your supply every day. Important in bulding and repairing muscles, getting enough protein while you’re toning and sculpting those muscles is absolutely necessary.
Protein and Weight Loss: How It Works
What makes protein effective for weight loss? Protein takes longer for your body to digest which gives you a natural boost in your metabolism. Studies have found that one of the amino acids, in particular leucine, can help rev up your metabolism resulting in weight loss.
Typically when you’re on a weight loss diet you’re likely to lose muscle mass. Leucine helps prevent this which means that you’ll be more likely to lose fat, not muscle.
It has also been determined that protein secretes a hormone that tells your brain you are full, helping you eat less. And, you’ll feel full longer. In addition, the slower rate of digestion means that you won’t get the spike in blood sugar like you do when you eat carbs.
Higher protein consumption also has a natural diuretic(water loss) effect.
It is believed that it is easier to maintain ongoing weight loss while on a higher protein diet than a high carb diet. High carb dieters are more likely to hit “plateaus” and be unable to reach their goals than those getting more high quality protein.
Starting out your day with a high protein breakfast also gives your liver a kickstart, which, in turn, boosts your metabolism and even keeps the fire stoked for as long as 12 hours.
Eating protein every 3-4 hours will keep your energy up and beat your cravings down. You’ll also benefit by having smaller protein portions throughout the day rather than one over-sized serving at dinner, since too much protein at one time can still end up as fat.
By having a small protein snack before going out to dinner or a party you’ll be much less likely to over indulge on all the “bad” choices available.
What Foods Should You Choose?
You should aim for “complete” proteins at every meal. These are the proteins that come from animal sources — eggs, milk and meats. You want to be careful when choosing meats — many contain too much fat. Opt for lean red meat, chicken breast, turkey breast, pork tenderloin.
Other excellent choices are eggs. If you prefer to reduce the calories and fat you can choose egg whites, as these are nearly pure protein. You can find a lot of great recipes for egg white omelettes!
Fish is another complete protein source like tuna, salmon and shellfish. Non-fat and low fat dairy (cottage cheese is a high leucine food) as well as whey protein powders are also good complete protein foods.
Even though protein and weight loss sounds like a dynamic duo, don’t forsake all other food choices! The best weight loss plan is one that combines a healthy combination of protein, carbs and fats for a well balanced diet.