Protein & Weight Loss

Written on 12/29/2019
Jamie Gilliam

One of the biggest mistakes we see women make when trying to lose weight, build muscle or maintain weight is lack of protein in their diets. Protein is one of the three macronutrients, along with carbohydrates and fat.


Protein is mostly known for its role in muscle synthesis, which supports weight loss by cultivating lean body mass to boost metabolism. Protein has also shown to satisfy hunger, which lowers the risk of overeating and can help control caloric intake.


Since protein is found in a wide variety of sources, including animal and plant-based products, obtaining adequate intake and meeting dietary needs to maintain health and lose weight is not diffiuclt.  


Why Is Protein Important For Weight Loss and Management?


The importance of protein in weight loss stems from a number of factors, including the following:


Protein Stimulates Muscle Growth 

One of the most important roles of protein is to repair, grow, and build lean muscle tissue. More lean muscle tissue allows your body to burn more calories at rest, which results in weight loss and the ability to maintain weight loss. 


Protein Helps Satisfy Hunger

According to data published in the Current Opinion of in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, protein has shown to be more satiating than carbohydrate and fat in the short and long-term.


Decreased hunger rates have also shown to coincide with higher intakes of essential amino acids, or amino acids that must be obtained through diet, such as leucine, lysine, tryptophan, isoleucine, and threonine.


Regulates Hormones

A series of hormones regulate hunger. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports consuming a high-protein diet has shown to induce satiating hormones, which can help control appetite and food consumption.


Keeps Blood Sugar Levels Stable

If you have ever heard to include protein with all meals and snacks, this is why…

Complex carbs and fiber are released slowly, but simple and refined carbs cause blood sugar spikes and a subsequent drop, which tends to cause food cravings not so long after. 


Pairing protein with carb sources slows down the absorption of sugar from your stomach into the bloodstream, helping to stabilize blood sugars and warding off future cravings. 


Protein Increases Energy Expenditure

The "thermic effect of food" (TEF) is the energy the body uses to digest food into smaller, absorbable components. Protein has a higher TEF compared to carbs and fat, which essentially means the body burns more calories through the digestion process than the other two macronutrients. 


Protein Supplies B Vitamins to the Body

The majority of lean proteins are rich in B vitamins. While each of the eight essential B vitamins has their own set of functions, they cohesively provide the body with energy and helps metabolic processes function at their prime.


How Much Protein For Your Body?


Protein intake recommendations vary based on a number of factors, including age, weight, gender, and activity levels, though adults are often encouraged to consume at least 10 to 35 percent of total daily calories from protein sources. 


The suggested daily protein intake for individuals is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram (g/kg) of body weight, up to 1g per kilogram of body weight.  


And despite the popularity of a high-protein, low-carb diet, there is evidence detailing diets high in protein but containing an adequate amount of carbohydrates have been successfully used to improving metabolic rates.  Don't worry, we will discuss carbohydates in another article.  


Right now....focus on protein and eating more quality green vegetables, while limiting processed foods and sugar.  


Meeting Protein Recommendations 

Along with consuming adequate protein, it is imperative to achieve recommendations through high-quality products. So instead of choosing bacon, hot dogs, other processed meats, opt for the following lean meats and fish to reduce unwanted fat, salt, and additional preservatives:

• Beef Sirloin: 19 grams per 3 ounces 
• Chicken: 17 grams per 3 ounces 
• Eggs: 6 grams per 1 medium egg 
• Shrimp: 19 grams per 3 ounces
• Tilapia: 23 grams per 1 cooked fillet
• Tuna: 25 grams per standard can


While I am not a big fan of dairy products and suggest avoiding all dairy and derivatives (especially if you are suffer from hormone imbalances and thyroid issues), dairy products can be a good source of protein.  Although research suggests consuming full-fat and whole products may not be as concerning as once believed, individuals watching calorie intake may benefit from choosing "low-fat" options:

• Dairy Milk: 8 grams per 8-ounce cup
• Greek Yogurt: 20 grams per 1 cup grams

(beware of added sugars) 
• Cottage Cheese: 13 grams per ½ cup 


Whether following a vegetarian lifestyle or simply trying to reduce meat intake, plant-based proteins are valuable meat alternatives whilst often supplying healthy fat and fiber. Shake up your standard meat dishes with:

• Black Beans: 19 grams per ½ cup 
• Lentils: 9 grams per ½ cup boiled 
• Peanut Butter: 8 grams per two tablespoons 
• Quinoa: 4 grams per ½ cup cooked 
• Soybeans: 22 grams per 1 cup boiled
• Tempeh: 31 grams per 1 cup 
• Tofu: 20 grams per 1 cup 


I hope this sheds some light on the importance of protein intake!  To keep it simple,  consume protein at every meal and snack and you'll get plenty of daily protien!