Protein isn’t a new word in our health vocabulary. We have learnt its importance as the building block of our body during school biology lessons. Now it is a buzzword among fitness professionals and enthusiasts. But, of course, protein can be controversial too, as in how much you should consume, who should not be consuming any, whether it can be helpful, and more. But we are here to tell you everything you need to know about protein and its association with weight loss.
The big question is – does protein help you lose weight? First, let’s dial it back to the basics for a bit. Starting with, what exactly is protein? Protein is essentially something that gives your body the energy it needs, along with the help it needs to build muscle mass. Proteins contain amino acids, which can be essential or non-essential. Our body produces the non-essential ones, but the essential amino acids are what we need to consume since they do not get produced naturally.
Types of Protein
It is vital to understand where you can get your protein intake. There are many different protein sources, which can get confusing, especially if you have any dietary restrictions or allergies. The main idea is to know where you can get the optimum amount of protein without compromising on other factors.
Protein is of two types:
These come from animal products, mainly dairy-based products such as milk and yoghurt, and animal meat such as chicken, mutton, pork, etc. These get considered complete proteins primarily because they contain all nine of the essential amino acids that one needs to function.
These proteins get derived from plants, from peas and soy to chickpeas and brown rice. Unfortunately, these are incomplete proteins because they typically lack at least one critical amino acid your body requires.
Ways to Use Protein
You should ideally consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight. So, weighing around 60 kg, a minimum of 60 grams of protein should be ideal. However, this also depends on other factors like your activity levels, body size, age, etc. For example, older people, more active people, and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding require more protein.
To complement your weight loss journey, increase your protein intake to around 1.6-2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight. You can also calculate it by keeping protein around 25-30% of your daily caloric intake. It will help you balance the amount of protein you consume while ensuring your intake is not too high. Protein is also best when you consume it in tandem with exercise.
It would help if you had protein daily; it helps repair and grow your cells. Protein deficiency is very rare but can happen to you if you are perhaps on a plant-based diet. Also, suppose you are not consuming nearly enough protein per day. In that case, it can be dangerous to your health, so supplement your diet with added protein. However, a diet that is extremely high in protein can also strain your liver and kidneys and cause osteoporosis because it causes your body to lose calcium. So, yes, protein can aid in weight loss.
Protein’s Weight Loss Advantages
- Keeps You Satiated: According to studies, protein is a satiating macronutrient. It helps you stay full for longer and in the process and also reduces your portion sizes.
- Preserves Lean Mass: Protein is beneficial if you go into a caloric deficit diet. However, it only happens if you exercise alongside your low-calorie diet. Still, if you are consuming protein often, it helps preserve your body’s lean mass during these periods.
- It Increases Food’s Thermic Effect: Your body needs time and energy to digest your meal, break it down, and transform it into energy. Therefore, the expense of breaking down food, essentially the thermic effect of food, is relatively high in protein.
- Protein Does Not Get Stored as Fat: Protein makes it hard for your body to store that excess energy as fat, which is helpful for those trying to lose weight. However, something noteworthy is that protein comes in a package. So when you’re eating something high in protein, you’re also eating all the other things, be it saturated fats, fibre, or sodium. For example, a good-sized steak will offer you a good amount of protein, approximately 30 grams, in one serving. However, it will also deliver a good amount of saturated fats alongside. On the other hand, a serving of lentils will provide you with an ideal amount of protein and fibre without having any sodium or saturated fats. It is why it is of utmost importance to choose carefully what you put inside your body.
The HealthifyMe Note
Protein has many benefits for those who want to lose weight. Not only does it help you stay full for longer, but it also means that you consume less throughout the day. In addition, it preserves your lean body mass and increases the thermic effect of the food you are eating. Finally, protein consumption also helps make it more difficult for your body to store the excess food as fat.
Quick Protein Rich Healthy Recipes
Baked Soya Chunks
Serving Size: 2-3
Preparation time: 20 minutes
- Soya chunks- 1 cup
- Salt- just a pinch
- Olive oil- 1 tbsp
- Red chilli powder- 1 tsp
- Wash the soya chunks.
- Boil it for a few minutes with a pinch of salt.
- Squeeze out the water with your hands.
- Please put it in another bowl and toss it with salt, red chilli powder, and olive oil.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees for 6-8 minutes.
- Bake the soya chunks for 10 minutes on both sides at 180 degrees.
- Serve it warm.
Microwave Mug Egg
Serving Size: 1
Preparation time: 5 minutes
- Soya flour/quinoa flour/oats flour- 5 tbsp
- Baking powder- ¼ tsp
- Baking soda- ⅛ tsp
- Milk- 2 tbsp
- Melted butter- 1 tsp
- Egg- 1
- Salt- just a pinch
- Mix flour, salt, baking soda and powder in a microwave-safe mug and mix it with a fork.
- Add milk and butter, and mix until combined.
- Make a well in the centre of the batter with a spoon and crack your eggs into the centre. Then, over the egg, spoon the batter from the edges.
- Cook for 50 seconds to 2 minutes in the microwave.
- Enjoy while warm.
Note: The cooking time may vary; therefore, keep a close eye on your mug while in the microwave so that it does not overflow or overcook.
Foods to Try
You can incorporate several foods into your daily routine to ensure that you have the correct amount of protein in your diet. Here are a few foods you can introduce to help your weight loss journey:
- Poultry and seafood
- Dairy foods, but in moderation (around 1-2 servings a day)
- Legumes like beans, lentils, soybeans, and their products (tofu, tempeh, etc.)
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, etc.
- Vegetables like corn, broccoli, asparagus
Limit your consumption of red meat, and stay away from processed food and cold cuts entirely. These usually come with a package of saturated fats and excess sodium content.
The HealthifyMe Note
Protein has excellent benefits for those who are looking to lose weight. However, it is vital to remember that you shouldn’t just eat protein but consider a balanced meal. To get to a healthier you, ensure eating more protein-rich meals and regular daily exercise.
Keep one thing in mind as you navigate your weight loss journey. Up the protein, but keep it moderate. As is the case with everything, don’t go insane. The best approach is to keep things in moderation and get frequent exercise. Always remember to be flexible, pay attention to experts’ advice, and most importantly, your body.