Do protein help you lose weight? Learn about the role of protein in weight loss and if you should be consuming more.
There is a pervasive myth that protein makes people gain weight. However, the research does not support this idea. In fact, many papers show the opposite is true. People who eat more protein tend to lose weight or stop gaining weight and improve metabolic factors [PMID: 30061916].
Protein is essential for sustaining lean muscle mass but can also help you lose weight. Protein aids to keep you feeling full longer, which may help you eat fewer calories overall. Additionally, protein helps to preserve muscle mass while you’re dieting, which can help you burn more calories.
There are two ways by which protein helps you lose weight. The first is giving satiety, a sense of fullness that avoids overeating [PMID: 15507147]. Secondly, diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT) increases energy expenditure. Let’s see how protein helps you lose weight in detail, backed by pieces of evidence.
High protein induces satiety
Satiety is the sense of fullness and satisfaction after eating. Feeling satiated after a meal is important because it can help control weight and prevent overeating. Protein-rich foods can induce satiety.
Protein intensifies the release of hormones that signal the brain to stop eating. These hormones include peptides YY and GLP-1, which are released from the small intestine after protein consumption. These hormones reduce hunger and food intake, leading to feelings of satiety [PMID: 25489333].
A high-protein diet can help you feel fuller for longer, helping you to maintain a healthy weight. Protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds are essential to a healthy diet.
High protein causes diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT)
Daily energy expenditure of the body is divided into three parts: basal metabolic rate, diet-induced thermogenesis and the energy required for physical activity.
Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the most significant component of energy expenditure and comprises 60% to 80% of daily energy expenditure, depending on body size and composition. Diet-induced thermogenesis represents the heat produced by the body in the digestion, absorption, and metabolism of food. Diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT) and basal metabolic rate (BMR) are increased by ingesting a meal rich in protein or a meal that stimulates protein synthesis.
Proteins have a higher thermic effect on the body than carbs and fat, thus providing more energy or calories expended per gram of food eaten. That means eating protein burns more calories than eating carbohydrates or fat.
Eating protein-rich foods can help you burn more calories and lose weight. In fact, findings have shown that people who eat a high-protein diet lose more weight and body fat than those who eat a lower-protein diet [PMID: 10403587].
How much protein do you need per day?
Studies have revealed that high-protein diets can aid in weight reduction. So to lose weight, how much protein do you need? The answer depends on your weight, activity level, and acceptable protein range.
For adults, an appropriate macronutrient distribution range (AMDR) of 45-65 % of total energy from carbs (CHO), 20-35 % from fats, and 10-35% from protein. Further recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein is 46 and 56 g d for females and males, respectively.
A diet is high protein diet if it exceeds protein intake to 0.8 g/kg or when 15-16% of total energy is from protein.
Ideally, to achieve weight loss, you must have protein around 1g/kg body weight. However, care should be taken not to exceed the daily calorie limit.
How to include more protein in your diet
Current research suggests that the optimal protein intake of 0.25 g/kg/meal is sufficient to stimulate muscle protein synthesis [PMID: 25355188] maximally. Protein intake beyond this threshold does not further stimulate muscle protein synthesis or result in additional gains in lean body mass.
For a 70 kg adult, a meal consisting of 17 to 20 grams of protein is an ideal way to increase protein absorption. Such a meal is best suited for weight loss.
What are the best sources of protein?
There are different types of protein sources, but some are better than others. The top sources of proteins are those that come from animals, such as meat, eggs and dairy products. These proteins are complete, containing all the essential amino acids your body needs to function correctly. Plant-based proteins, on the other hand, such as beans and lentils, are not as complete as animal-based proteins, but they still offer many health benefits. If you’re looking for a good source of protein that is low in fats, read this information.
In conclusion, protein does help you lose weight. Protein helps to maintain muscle mass while you are dieting, which can help you burn more calories. Additionally, protein can help you feel fuller longer, which may help you eat fewer calories overall. Choose lean protein sources for example fish, poultry, and legumes to maximise protein benefits for weight loss.