A word of caution: As with any weight-loss/exercise regimen, consult your primary healthcare provider before doing any of this or any other workout or diet.
With the continued excitement for eating low-carb and Paleo–two diets known for having higher protein intake– the popularity of protein continues to reign supreme. As you undergo your weight loss journey, you may wonder why protein is so prized. How does it really help you lose weight? Here are 5 reasons why protein will get the job done:
- SATISFACTION, FULLNESS, DISCOURAGING OVEREATING. In the beginning of your weight loss journey, protein is important because it helps you feel fuller longer. Having protein around slows down digestion making us more satisfied and less likely to go back for seconds. If this happens over the course of multiple days your weight loss is assured.
- PROTEIN CRUSHES CRAVINGS (SUGAR HIGHS & LOWS). I don’t know about you, but when I come off a sugar high onto a sugar low I can make food decisions I will regret (I’m talking about you, key lime pie and double cheeseburgers). Pairing protein with carbohydrate-rich foods slows down the absorption of sugar from your stomach into your bloodstream, which may help keep your blood sugar from skyrocketing and ward off future cravings.
- PROTEIN REQUIRES MORE ENERGY. The “thermogenic effect of food” (TEF) is the energy we use to digest food into small, absorbable components. Protein has a higher TEF compared to carbs and fat meaning you’re actually burning more calories to process protein than to process the other two.
- FAT BURNING. You may not have known this, but it is a scientific fact that your body cannot effectively burn and use fat as energy if it doesn’t have help from either carbohydrate or protein. As you are losing weight, your body loses both muscle and fat (I know, bummer!). During this process it is especially important that you continue to eat enough protein in your diet. Having adequate protein coming in from your food fuels fat burning while preserving calorie-burning lean muscle.
- PROTEIN PROMOTES MUSCLE REPAIR & GROWTH. Your protein needs increase especially after bouts of intense exercise so increasing your protein intake on days that you exercise is beneficial. Additionally, if you strength train consider having a high protein snack right after a training session when the muscle is sensitive to nutrients that it can use to repair and grow.
One important thing to realize is eating more protein alone won’t necessarily help you shed excess weight in a healthy way. When consumed in excessive amounts it can still lead to weight gain much like eating excess carbs or fat would, and could put unnecessary strain on the kidneys over a long period of time.
In closing, protein is essential for a higher quality of life. Bottom line, humans would not be able to function without protein. Protein is yet another example of why THE BASICS WIN.