Why Does A High Protein Diet Help With Weight Loss

Why Does A High Protein Diet Help With Weight Loss

What do we know about protein that may help us on our weight loss journey? As I always love to point out, we do now know that the energy balance equation tells us that if we burn more calories than we consume, we will lose weight. In contrast, if we consume more calories than we burn, we will gain weight. Again, this does not take into account specific genetic conditions or ailments, such as hypothyroidism. However, where does protein fall into all of this? After all, we do know that eating the right kinds of food will aid us on our journey to weight loss and help us gain optimal health. The main macronutrients in our diets are protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Let’s take a look at protein, shall we?

We do know that protein is a macronutrient that reduces levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, while it boosts the appetite-reducing hormones GLP-1, peptide YY and cholecystokinin. 1 This leads to an automatic reduction in calorie intake and leads to weight loss. We also know that digesting and metabolizing protein burns calories. Due to it’s high thermic effect, a high protein intake tends to boost metabolism. This is wonderful!  It helps you burn more calories throughout the day, and also while you sleep. What has been shown is that a high protein intake has been shown to boost metabolism and increase the amount of calories burned by about 80 to 100 per day. 2  

Now in reference to losing weight, we know losing muscle mass happens with weight loss and is not something people usually want. Eating enough protein can help reduce muscle loss, which should help keep your metabolic rate higher as you lose body fat. Weightlifting and strength training are other factors that can reduce muscle loss and metabolic slowdown when losing weight. For this reason, a high protein diet and  strength training program are two important elements of an effective weight loss plan.

In looking at the Dietary Reference Intake for protein, the recommendation is only 46 and 56 grams for the average woman and man. This amount may be enough to prevent deficiency, but is far from optimal if you are trying to lose weight and gain muscle. Most of the studies on protein and weight loss say to aim for 30% of calories from protein seems to be a very effective strategy for weight loss. You can find the number of grams by multiplying your calorie intake by 0.075. For example, on a 2000 calorie diet you eat 2000 * 0.075 = 150 grams of protein. 3

You can also aim for a certain number of protein based on your weight. For example, aiming for 0.7-1 gram of protein per pound of lean mass is a common recommendation (1.5-2.2 grams per kilogram).4 It is good to spread your protein intake throughout the day by eating protein with every meal. This is helpful for weight loss and will help you lower the intake of the amounts of carbohydrates and fats you consume.

Importantly, it is great to know that eating protein is an effective way to lose weight and keep the lean muscle mass on, which many are trying to do with their workout programs. One thing that is important to keep in mind is increasing protein is not a sole ingredient to losing weight. The KEY HERE IS: YOU WILL NOT LOSE WEIGHT IF YOU DON’T EAT FEWER CALORIES THAN YOU BURN. Yes, the energy in vs. energy out equation will still apply, no matter what the macronutrients are that we are looking at. Once this is understood, only then will weight loss be effective and easier to understand and follow! I applaud all of you all on your weight loss journeys and hope this article sheds some light on the importance of protein in your diet and weight loss plan!

Maria Khaled, RD, LD

If you like this article, check out https;//www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-protein-can-help-you-lose-weight#section8

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