Please note, when considering any diet change like increased protein intake, it's best to consult with a doctor or dietician regarding your own unique needs.
Are you currently trying to lose weight and wondering how protein can help you achieve your goal?
If you are, you have come to the right place.
In this post, I’ll share with you everything you need to know about how protein helps in weight loss and how to ensure you’re getting the right amount of protein in your diet to stay on your fat loss journey.
Let's get into it!
What is Protein?
Like carbs and fat, protein is a macronutrient that performs several important functions in your body.
Among the key things protein does is, it helps the body grow, repair, and maintain healthy skin, bones, muscles, and hair.
Protein is built of amino acids. One of its primary roles is to ensure that your body’s organs perform optimally, and it can reduce the risk of heart disease, bad cholesterol, and several other lifestyle diseases.
You can get your recommended daily dose of this macronutrient from the following high-protein foods:
- Meats: Lean beef, turkey, pork, and chicken.
- Dairy: Cheese, milk, yogurt, etc.
- Fish: Salmon trout, sardines, etc.
- Legumes: Lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, etc.
How Does Protein Help You Lose Weight?
I’ll explain how below.
- Protein helps you stay fuller for longer
What this does is that it makes you take longer to get hungry between meals, which can help in your weight loss journey because you might consume fewer calories in a day.
- Reduces your appetite
One study  done on overweight women who increased their intake of protein from 15% to 30 of their meals found they experienced sustained reductions in appetite, which resulted in significant weight loss.
This goes to show the boost in appetite-reducing hormones can be beneficial in weight management.
- Protein reduces cravings
If you find yourself often craving a bag of chips, a bar of chocolate, or any other unhealthy snack, even when you’re not hungry, increasing your protein intake could help you deal with your unmanageable cravings.
Their urge to eat late at night, which is not recommended for anyone wanting to lose weight, was also drastically reduced when compared to overweight men who had a low or normal protein diet.
Protein can reduce craving significantly by boosting dopamine, a brain hormone that plays a part in controlling your cravings.
- Protein boosts your metabolism helping you burn more calories
Protein increases thermogenesis which is the energy required to digest, absorb and dispose of food nutrients.
This increase in thermogenesis means eating protein can help you burn 20-35% more calories than carbs, which has a thermic effect of 5-10% or fat at 0-3%.
So, by simply increasing your protein intake you can burn 80-100 more calories a day.
To put this in perspective, to burn 260 calories through exercise you would have to walk moderately for about an hour.
- It helps maintain your weight loss in the long term
If reading the above points on how protein can help in weight loss has got you excited there is even more good news.
This is welcome news because many people have a challenge ensuring they don’t gain back weight after losing it.
How Much Protein Should You Take to Enjoy Its Weight Loss Benefits?
Research done by various nutritional organizations shows that the minimum intake of protein the average person should take to maintain baseline health is 0.8-1.0 grams per kilogram of body weight (0.36g/lb), depending upon your goals. (If you're interested in learning more, consult with a health professional like a dietician!)
Note: when calculating your protein intake, don’t confuse the weight of the protein food you’re eating with the protein it contains.
This confusion happens a lot, and I’ll explain what I mean to ensure you don’t make the same mistake.
An egg could weigh 46 grams but only contain 6 grams of protein. Another example is an average chicken breast weighs 174g, but contains about 30 grams of protein.
Are There Side Effects of Too Much Protein?
If you’re wondering if there are any side effects if you consume too much protein, there have been claims that it could lead to diseases like kidney stones, and osteoporosis. However, no concrete scientific studies support this claim.
You can consult your doctor or nutritionist if you plan to take a high-protein diet to find out what impact it will have on your health.