Much has been researched, devised, debated, and written about denying yourself favorite (but fattening) foods or otherwise taking things away from the dinner table in order to drop pounds. This is so you can boost your self-esteem and confidence to wear what you want to the beach or the office. Crash diets, dry fasting, the Scarsdale Diet, the Slow-Carb Diet: the list of trendy, fad diets is a long one. The irony, though, is that one of the most effective ways to lose weight is by adding something – protein – to your daily menu.
A diet structured around an uptick in protein intake can produce increased muscle mass and a boosted metabolism, per womenshealthmag.com, two factors that can contribute to desired weight loss. Muscle weighs less than fat, and that coupled with a bolstered metabolism burning your food fuel more efficiently and optimally will translate to weight loss, over time, quite possibly with positive results showing up in the next few weeks and months that follow.
How the Right Foods Make Protein Work for You
This is not about binging on protein – a steak for dinner every night? – and then stepping on the scales and watching the weight magically melt away. Per womenshealthmag.com, the best protein-laden foods to consume include fish, lean meats (e.g., turkey, pork, bison, etc.), dairy products, and beans (e.g., black beans, lima beans, etc.). Even then, be careful what you grab in the grocery store and stick in your cart. “Traditional protein sources aren’t usually grab and go. And if they are, they’re often processed, fried, or unhealthy,” says nutrition expert and American Dietetic Association spokesperson Angela Ginn.
Other foods recognized for their superior protein content include, per medicalnewstoday.com:
- Hemp seeds
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Brussels sprouts
Protein supplements are also useful in this regard, often found in the form of protein powders, such as those available through Wonder Labs.
Studies cited at womenshealthmag.com have shown a diet in which 25 percent of the calories consumed from lean protein sources (vs. the recommended 10-15 percent) can reduce high blood pressure, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and triglycerides more effectively than a traditional higher-carb diet and possibly help guard against obesity, osteoporosis, and diabetes. Per medicalnewstoday.com, eating foods rich in protein can also enhance muscle building, stimulate weight loss, and provide a satisfying feeling of fullness after the meal.
How Does Protein Help You Lose Weight?
This was touched on to some degree earlier here, but, per myfitnesspal.com, following is a more extensive summary of how properly enhanced protein consumption (meaning it should be discussed with a qualified healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, before you go off on your own protein program) can benefit you and your health:
1. It satiates your appetite. In other words, a meal with sufficient protein included should leave you feeling fuller, longer, and thus reduce any imminent cravings that tempt you to stuff more food down your mouth. This takes place because the presence of protein slows your digestive process, and the resultant cut in calories adds up over time, meaning ‘no thanks’ to some of that unwanted fat.
2. Highs and lows from carbs get curbed. Consumption of protein teamed with foods abundant in carbs thwarts the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, thus helping to prevent spikes in your blood sugar levels.
3. Digesting protein burns more energy. Per medicalnewstoday.com, there is a concept known as the “thermic effect of food (TEF)” that measures the energy it takes for our bodies to break down consumed food into small, adsorbable pieces. Because protein’s TEF is higher than that of carbs and fat, more calories get burned by your body’s digestion of protein.
4. Protein fuels fat burning. A sufficient supply of protein being provided by the food you consume will focus on energy production through the burning of fat while preserving your calorie-burning lean muscle. That is to say, when you are working to lose weight through a protein-enhanced diet, your body will target the bad stuff (your fat) while leaving the good stuff (your lean muscle) intact.
5. It promotes muscle growth and repair. Two related benefits for the price of one. Such benefits of protein are best realized when done in conjunction with intense exercise, at which time your muscles are more sensitive to the nutrients it needs to repair and grow, as in the “no-pain, no-gain” world in the gym, on the track, on the road, or in the pool.