Is a high protein diet best for weight loss?
It can be hard to grasp the difference between the groups of calories that we intake, from fats to carbs to protein, each one helps your body in a different way. When it comes to the best diet for weight loss the true key to your goal is being in a caloric deficit, meaning, taking in less calories than you expend. That can be a simple objective to have, but you have to realize that a lot of hidden calories lie in sauces, drinks and starches, mostly in the form of carbohydrates.
This is where a high protein diet is discussed and found valuable. Protein is the least caloric of the food groups and it helps you build muscle (which burns more fat), therefore, to effectively lose weight and stay away from excess calories, protein may be the way to go.
A high protein diet has taken on many names and forms throughout the last twenty years, it popularized with the Atkins diet and has been pushed forward by the keto diet (which promotes high fat and protein, low carbs). We will dive into the science behind eating more protein to see if it can help your weight loss journey.
What is Protein
Most people associate protein with meat, but to get into the nitty gritty of protein, or the chemistry of it, we need to understand the thermic effect of food (TEF). TEF is explained by the idea that even if you take in 2,000 calories, that doesn’t mean you actually absorb 2,000 calories, because extracting the calories from the food in your body takes energy. Different foods require varying amounts of energy to be digested, and protein specifically has a high TEF. Therefore, protein is a good food to eat when you want to lose fat because it is an energy burner in itself and is not highly caloric.
Protein is also the building blocks of our muscles, muscles are incredible because they help us move our body, lift things and they also look sexy! But even more so, the more muscle you have the more fat you will burn due to the increase in metabolism in your body.
How to Eat a High Protein Diet
Eating a high protein diet doesn’t mean you eat all meat, there are many vegetables that also have a high protein content. Not only should you include lean red meats, chicken and fish in your diet, but edamame, spinach, lentils and more have a lot of protein. One way to think about vegetables in relation to protein is the darker the shade of the vegetable’s color, the more protein. Hence broccoli heads and spinach (dark green) have a lot of protein.
Here is a full day of meals that we recommend to have a high protein diet but also feel satiated:
Breakfast: Two boiled eggs (or scrambled), 3 pieces of lean turkey bacon and a grapefruit.
Lunch: A spinach and kale salad, topped with chicken or salmon, carrots, onion, edamame and black beans. For your dressing blend up some tahini with lemon juice and olive oil.
Dinner: 8 ounces of the meat of your choice, a cup of lentils, steamed broccoli, baked sweet potato and brussel sprouts.
Snack options: Protein pancakes topped with peanut butter, cottage cheese with honey or fruit, jerky with an apple.
As you can see eating a high protein diet can be fun and easy to do, and it will be effective in your journey to lose weight. High protein options will help you stay away from overeating by consuming too many carbs and it will allow you to burn more fat. Protein is one of the most important building blocks of your body, use it wisely!