Protein is the single most important nutrient for weight loss and a better looking body. A high protein intake boosts metabolism, reduces appetite and changes several weight-regulating hormones.
Protein can help you lose weight and belly fat, and it works via several different mechanisms.
Protein Changes Levels of Weight Regulating Hormones
Your weight is actively regulated by your brain, particularly an area called the hypothalamus. In order for your brain to determine when and how much to eat, it processes multiple different types of information.
A higher protein intake actually increases levels of the satiety hormone, leptin (appetite-reducing), while reducing your levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin.
Protein Makes You Burn More Calories
Due to the high thermic effect and several other factors, a high protein intake tends to boost metabolism. By making you burn more calories, high protein diets have a “metabolic advantage” over diets that are lower in protein.
Protein Reduces Appetite and Makes You Eat Fewer Calories
Protein can reduce hunger and appetite and you end up eating fewer calories without having to count calories or consciously control portions. This works on a meal-to-meal basis, as well as a sustained day-to-day reduction.
Protein Makes You Lose Weight, Even Without Conscious Calorie Restriction
Protein works on both sides of the “calories in vs calories out” equation. It reduces calories in and boosts calories out. For this reason, it is not surprising to see that high-protein diets lead to weight loss, even without intentionally restricting calories, portions, fat or carbs.
Protein Helps Prevent Muscle Loss and Metabolic Slowdown Weight loss doesn’t always equal fat loss. When you lose weight, muscle mass tends to be reduced as well. However, what you really want to lose is body fat, both subcutaneous fat (under the skin) and visceral fat (around organs).
Losing muscle is a side effect of weight loss that most people don’t want. Another side effect of losing weight is that the metabolic rate tends to decrease. In other words, you end up burning fewer calories than you did before you lost the weight.
Eating plenty of protein can reduce muscle loss, which should help keep your metabolic rate higher as you lose body fat.
How to Get More Protein in Your Diet
Increasing your protein intake is simple. Just eat more of protein-rich foods.
- Meats: Chicken, turkey, lean beef, pork, etc.
- Fish: Salmon, sardines, haddock, trout, etc.
- Eggs: All types.
- Dairy: Milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.
- Legumes: Kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc.
Taking a protein supplement can also be a good idea if you struggle to reach your protein goals.
Protein is The Easiest, Simplest and Most Delicious Way to Lose Weight
When it comes to fat loss and a better looking body, protein is the king of nutrients.
You don’t need to restrict anything to benefit from a higher protein intake. It is all about adding to your diet.
This is particularly appealing because most high-protein foods also taste really good. Eating more of them is easy and satisfying.
A high-protein diet can also be an effective obesity prevention strategy, not something that you just use temporarily to lose fat. By permanently increasing your protein intake, you tip the “calories in vs calories out” balance in your favor.
Over months, years or decades, the difference in your waistline could be huge. However, keep in mind that calories still count. Protein can reduce hunger and boost metabolism, but you won’t lose weight if you don’t eat fewer calories than you burn.
It is definitely possible to overeat and negate the calorie deficit caused by the higher protein intake, especially if you eat a lot of junk food. For this reason, you should still base your diet mostly on whole, single ingredient foods.