We all know one of those fitness-obsessed people who drink a protein shake every morning, never miss a workout, and watch what they eat. If you look carefully at their diet, you’ll notice that their meals comprise a significant intake of protein rich foods. For anyone on a weight loss journey, protein is highly prized. It can help you lose weight (including that stubborn belly fat), boost metabolism, and reduce appetite.
If you are struggling with excess weight and are ready to do something about it, we give you 5 reasons to make protein your weight loss BFF.
1. Protein Prevents Excess Calorie Intake
In the beginning of your weight loss journey, protein is important because it helps you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Eating protein slows down the digestion process making you feel more satisfied with your meals. This prevents you from going back for second helpings, one of the biggest culprits in the way of your weight loss goals. In the long term, your calorie intake is significantly reduced, keeping you on track. If this happens over the course of multiple days your calorie savings can help with weight loss.
2. Protein Curbs Carb Highs and Lows
Have you ever come off a sugar high into a sugar low, desperately craving junk food, and unhealthy sugar laden treats? These are times when you make food decisions you’ll regret later. 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.
3. Protein Requires More of Your Energy
The “thermic 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, which means you burn more calories to process protein than to process the other two.
4. Protein Fuels Fat Burning
It may be surprising, 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. During this process it is especially important that you continue to eat enough protein. Having adequate protein intake fuels fat burning while preserving calorie-burning lean muscle.
5. Protein Promotes Muscle Growth and Repair
Your protein needs increase especially after bouts of intense exercise. Hence, increasing your protein intake on days that you exercise is beneficial. Additionally, if you are strength-training in the gym with weights, 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.
Now that you know why protein is so important in order for you to achieve your weight loss goals, you must also know that the old age ‘anything in excess is harmful’ is applicable here too. Eating protein alone won’t help you shed excess weight. In fact, eating too much protein will end up having a negative impact on your body and put unnecessary strain on your kidneys in the long term.
It is important that you eat a balanced meal with the right proportion of protein, carbs, fibre and healthy fats and combine it with an appropriate exercise program. Talk to a nutrition and dietetics specialist to help you plan your perfect meals.