When we talk about a high-protein diet plan to lose weight, we simply mean protein-rich foods which can aid for effective and efficient weight loss program.
Protein is an essential nutrient and very important for good health.
You need regular and daily consumption of this nutrient to meet your body’s needs and since counting calories is essential to meet your weigh goals, this makes sense.
Based on body weight, the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight for protein, or 0.8 grams per kilogram.
There is a lot of scientific evidence supporting high protein intake for weight loss.
This article takes a critical look at the beneficial effects of protein and provides guidelines for achieving the best result from a high-protein diet.
What Is Protein and How Is It Important?
As mentioned earlier, protein in an essential macronutrient in the body along with carbs and fat.
Protein performs the following roles in the body.
- Tissue repair and maintenance – Protein is the main component of important body tissues like the muscles, bones, skin, and hair. These tissues are continuously worn out and repaired and replaced with new proteins.
- Enzymes – Most enzymes are made up of proteins, and the thousands of biochemical reactions that take place throughout your body are catalyzed by them.
- Hormones –Proteins are also a component of chemical messenger that allows cells and organs in your body to communicate with each other.
- Transportation and storage –Some proteins help in transportation of important molecules throughout the body. For example, the protein albumin helps transport fat throughout the body.
Proteins are made up of monomeric units known as amino acids.
Of the 20 standard amino acids needed by the body, 9 are considered “essential” meaning they have to be consumed in food because your body does not have what it takes to produce them.
Importantly, some foods are considered a better protein source than others, based on their amino acid composition.
Generally, animal proteins are considered as “complete protein” because they contain all the 9 essential amino acids needed for body function. Some of them include; eggs, dairy, fish, meat, and poultry.
Vegetable proteins basically, don’t provide an adequate amount of essential amino acids and as such can be eaten in combination with other plant sources to make a complete protein. Some high-protein vegetable source include legumes, nuts, seeds and grains
While protein quality is very important, the amount of protein consumed is also very necessary.
Although many researchers believe that the current dietary recommendations may be too low to promote healthy living in the long run (1).
Protein’s Effects on Weight Loss
Many studies reveal that increasing your protein intake may have an effect on your metabolic rate, appetite, weight and body composition.
1. Metabolic Rate
When you increase the amount of protein you take in you increase the number of calories you burn.
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reveals that protein digestion boosts metabolic rate by an impressive 20-35%, compared to 1.5-15%} increase for digesting carbs or fat (2).
2. Appetite and Fullness
Consuming more protein is known to suppress hunger and appetite for hours after a meal
What protein does is this: It increases the production of the hormones like PYY and GLP-1, this two help you feel full and satisfied for long. Additionally, it helps reduce the levels of the “hunger hormone” know as ghrelin (7, 8, 9, 10, 11).
A 2006 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that people who consumed a high-protein diet experienced higher GLP-1 levels, a greater feeling of fullness and less hunger than the group that ate a lower-protein diet (11).
Typically, a higher protein intake leads to a natural reduction in food intake due to these effects on appetite and fullness.
Another study also reveals that people who consumed a diet consisting of 30% protein consumed an average of 441 fewer calories per day than those that consumed a diet consisting of 10% protein (12).
3. Weight Loss and Body Composition
With the above facts, it is not surprising that protein’s ability to promote fullness, suppress appetite and increase metabolism can help you lose weight faster.
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorder reveals that a group of obese women who were on a high-protein diet lost an average of 43% more fat that those who were on a high-carb diet.
That is, women who were on a high-protein diet lost at least 22 pounds (10kg) (17).
Reduction in calorie intake leads to slow metabolism; this in part is due to muscle loss.
A 2012 study shows that a high-protein diet can be more effective than standard-protein diets for losing weight, preserving muscle mass and preventing metabolic slowdown during weight loss (18).
It is worthy of note that both standard or high-protein diet can be effective for everyone
How Much Protein Should You Eat Every Day?
There are some controversies about the amount of protein to be consumed per day
As mentioned earlier, DRI of 0.36 grams of protein per body weight or 0,8 grams per kilogram. This means that a 150 pounds (68kg) person would need approximately 54 grams of protein per day.
However, an increase in protein intake beyond this amount doesn’t necessarily provide additional benefits.
Nevertheless, it is pertinent to spread your protein intake throughout the day rather than consuming it in one meal. By so doing, your body gets to use the protein more efficiently (22).
How to Follow a High-Protein Diet
If you want to make things easy for yourself, customize your own food preferences and health-related goals.
For instance, if your blood sugar is high, you may want to follow a low-carb, high protein diet to control your blood sugar
By avoiding milk products, you can follow a protein-rich diet without consuming a dairy product.
If you are a vegetarian, you can avoid animal protein while sticking to a vegetable-rich source of protein.
To follow a high-protein diet, here are some guidelines.
- Calculate protein needs –Calculating your protein need is quite easy. Multiply your weight in pounds by 0.6–0.75 grams, or your weight in kilograms by 1.2–1.6 grams.
- Keep a food diary –You can keep a food diary by using an app or website that provides protein values for thousands of foods. This allows you to set your own calorie and macronutrient goals.
- Eat at least 25–30 grams of protein at meals –You need to consume an adequate amount of protein. A study reveals that consuming at least 25 grams of protein at meals may promote weight loss and muscle maintenance (23).
- Include both animal and plant proteins in your diet – Incorporating both sources of protein into your meal helps make your diet more nutritious.
- Choose high-quality protein sources –There are high-quality and low-quality protein sources. You can choose fresh meats, eggs, dairy and other proteins, rather than processed meats like bacon and lunch meats.
- Consume well-balanced meals –You need to balance your meal with vegetables, fruits, and other plant foods at every meal.
Lastly, this list of 15 delicious high-protein foods can help get you started.
Sample High-Protein Meal Plan
This is just a sample of how you can incorporate 100 grams of protein into your meal per day. However, you can make some adjustments to suit your needs
|3 eggs, 1 slice whole grain toast with 1 tablespoon almond butter and a pear.||Fresh Avocado and Cottage Cheese Salad and an orange.||6 ounces (170 g) steak, sweet potato, and grilled zucchini.|
|Smoothie made with 1 scoop protein powder, 1 cup coconut milk, and strawberries.||4 ounces (114 g) canned salmon, mixed greens, olive oil, and vinegar and an apple.||4 ounces (114 g) grilled chicken and Brussels sprouts.|
|Oatmeal and one cup plain Greek yogurt with 1/4 cup chopped pecans.||4 ounces (114 g) chicken mixed with avocado and red bell pepper and peach.||All Meat Veggie Chili and brown rice.|
|Spanish omelet made with 3 eggs, 1 ounce cheese, chili peppers, black olives, and salsa and an orange.||Leftover All Meat Veggie Chili and brown rice||4 ounces (114 g) halibut, lentils, and broccoli.|
|1/4 cup chopped walnuts, diced apples, and cinnamon||4 ounces (114 g) canned salmon mixed with healthy mayo on sprouted grain bread and carrot sticks.||Chicken Meatballs with Marinara Sauce, spaghetti squash and raspberries|
|3 scrambled eggs with 1 ounce cheese and 1/2 cup diced potatoes||Leftover Chicken Meatballs with Marinara Sauce and spaghetti squash with an apple||3 ounces (85 g) shrimp fajitas with grilled onions and bell peppers, guacamole, 1 cup black beans on a corn tortilla|
|Protein Pumpkin Pancakes topped with 1/4 cup chopped pecans||One cup plain Greek yogurt mixed with 1/4 cup chopped mixed nuts and pineapple||6 ounces (170 g) grilled salmon, potatoes and sautéed spinach|
Protein is a unique and important biomolecule necessary for proper body function.
A high-protein diet is linked to suppressed appetite, weight loss, body composition, and overall well-being.
To reap the full benefits of protein, spread your protein intake throughout the day. Choose a high-quality protein source and balance your intake with healthy carbs and fats.