A common theory about protein consumption is that it can help prevent and fight obesity by managing body weight better. Protein breaks down more slowly than carbohydrates, so it can help you feel full for longer and stop you from getting hungry between meals, resulting in fewer snacks. However, some disagree about whether proteins are safe and effective for long-term health.
A recent study found that a high-protein diet can lead to weight gain. People whose diet consists of more than 20% protein, particularly animal protein, are more likely to gain more than those with 10% protein. However, protein is an essential nutrient that helps maintain body weight, so it can be confusing to know how much protein to consume.
You may start to see weight gain if you consume more protein than your body needs for muscle growth and repair. The extra protein’s nitrogen components are removed and enter the gluconeogenesis cycle. Here, your body can’t differentiate between the glycogen it produces and carbohydrates, so it starts to store more body fat.
Protein and Weight Gain: The Connection
Simply put, consuming anything in excess can be harmful—protein consumption is no different. If you consume more protein than your body needs for a more extended time, it can lead to adverse effects like weight gain. Furthermore, how you consume your protein also plays a role in managing body weight.
Your daily protein requirements vary depending on your lifestyle, goals, body type, pregnancy, and any underlying illnesses or conditions. For example, an extremely active individual like an athlete or sportsman should not consume more than 2g per kg of protein as per their body weight. At the same time, a healthy individual with a normal physical activity level should consume protein amounting to about 0.8g per kg of their body weight. Anything over this can lead to unhealthy weight gain.
Scientifically, your body can convert and store any macronutrient into stored fat. So, if you consume too much protein, depending on the ease of access to other forms of energy, your body may convert it to sugar and store it as fat.
While consuming protein, one can end up eating protein-rich foods, which also contain calories. One of the most ignored facts about protein is that protein-rich foods and supplements may also have calories. Hence, consuming too much of it and not burning it can lead to adverse effects. It is no secret that consuming more calories daily than you burn will always lead to weight gain. However, the correct advice from a fitness coach or an expert nutritionist from HealthifyMe can help you better understand and classify your proteins.
Simple strategies like reducing the other macronutrients when increasing protein intake can help. However, consuming excessive protein over time has several other associated risks. For example, it can damage kidneys or negatively affect cardiovascular health.
The HealthifyMe Note
Protein plays a vital role in maintaining your overall health. But consuming it in excess will eventually lead to weight gain over time. It is especially true if you exceed the recommended calorie intake. Therefore, you must be careful with your overall calorie intake if weight loss is your goal. However, if your target is to gain weight, the most important thing is to increase your overall calorie consumption while sticking to 20-30% of those calories from protein intake, along with carbs and fat.
Avoid These Common Mistakes to Prevent Protein-Induced Unhealthy Weight Gain
The only way you can gain unhealthy weight due to protein consumption is by excess consumption or consuming it in an unhealthy preparation style.
Some of the successful ways to prevent unhealthy weight gain are:
- Ensure you do not consume excess calories (than you can burn) through your protein-rich foods.
- Stay physically active by indulging in physical activities like running, gym workouts etc.
- Consult an expert nutritionist to understand your body’s protein requirements.
- Be careful about the foods you choose to meet your daily protein requirements.
Protein Sources that May Contribute to Weight Gain
This powder alone is unlikely to contribute to weight gain, but how you use it can. Lack of a good workout routine and excessive protein powder use can result in weight gain; you start gaining weight if you increase your protein intake without altering the other nutrients in your diet to balance the increased calories. Protein powder can be a dietary addition for those attempting to gain weight, but if you’re trying to reduce weight, you need to use it judiciously.
Those who desire to gain weight struggle with a lack of appetite. Protein shakes are a simple way to increase protein intake without eating more whole foods. Depending on the brand and protein content, protein shakes vary. Therefore, consult a dietician to determine which is best for you. Experts at HealthifyMe will guide you to the best choice that will suit your health needs.
Store-bought yoghurt frequently claims to have high quantities of protein, but you shouldn’t consume it daily as it may have extra sugars and preservatives. In addition, they are unhealthy for you, as they have added flavourings. Yoghurts made at home are always the best choice.
Protein, cholesterol, saturated fat, and calories in meat are all high. In addition, you are more likely to overeat because it doesn’t include fibre. However, lean chicken meat helps you grow muscle, preventing undesired weight gain.
Cheese is a good source of protein, calcium, and other essential elements. But it’s crucial to be conscious of the cheese you’re eating. Avoid processed cheese if you want to prevent weight gain.
The HealthifyMe Expert’s Take
Protein is a very complex nutrient that needs to be consumed with care and love.
True to its very makeup, the human body, from hair, nails, and skin, to the myriad of hormones, down to the cells of all organs, to those muscles that help us move, is the majority protein.
So, with the above knowledge, it’s essential to select the right proteins and prepare them in a healthy way (e.g. grilling, poaching, roasting or steaming) to know how much and how often to consume them to achieve optimum health results.
A moderate diet is the best way to stay healthy and avoid weight gain. Overeating protein is not likely to cause weight gain by itself. However, other aspects of your lifestyle and the other foods you eat with protein can lead to weight gain. For example, you could gain weight if you consume more protein powder without adjusting your other portions to compensate for the added calories. Also, you may gain weight if you get most of your protein from high-fat foods like cheese, flavoured yoghurt, and meat. So, talking to a qualified nutritionist or dietitian is essential to find out what’s best for your health.