Top 5 reasons why protein is so important for weight loss
Updated: Apr 18
We all know what protein is but do we really know what it does for weight loss?
Let's find out.
Protein is a macronutrient that is extremely important for weight loss.
What is a macronutrient you ask? Well, Macronutrients are the three main sources of energy our bodies need in large quantities to function daily. Proteins, Carbs and Fats. That's why they're on the back of virtually every nutrition label ever.
Protein is the building blocks of life. It is needed to form and maintain healthy muscles, bones, and skin. It also makes enzymes and hormones that regulate all types of cells in your body. Ladies I hope you're listening.
Body tissues need protein to grow and repair themselves, so it's important for an ongoing health. The human body cannot make protein on its own so it needs to come from other sources like fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and sometimes supplements.
The role that Protein plays in our everyday lives is significant but the role it plays in terms of us reaching our fitness goals is even greater. Especially if you're trying to lose weight. So let's look at my top 5 reasons why protein is so important for weight loss.
1. Protein can increase metabolism because it takes more calories to metabolize protein than carbs or fat. Which means you're burning more calories simply by eating Protein. Mind blown? I know, I was too when I first learned this crazy little nugget of info. In a world where we're all trying to figure how to burn more calories who would have thought that eating more protein can give you the edge? Crazy!
2. Protein also makes you feel full for longer periods of time, so when paired with a carbohydrate during a meal, it slows digestion and reduces hunger. This means you eat less and don't leave the table feeling like you have a balloon in your belly. Plus, you're less likely to snack on those chips you have hiding in your desk (don't act like you don't) and more likely to hold off until you have something a bit healthier to chomp on.
3. Protein helps decrease body fat and builds/maintains lean muscle mass. For women this doesn't mean mass as in size, this means the actual percentage of your body that is made of muscle. That's important to know because the more percentage of your body that is made up of muscle the more calories you will burn at rest.
Build muscle burn fat! Isn't that basically everyone's mantra? Maybe we say it differently but what we mean is the same, right? We hear it all the time. Heck, we even say it to ourselves. "I want to lose this fat!" "I want to tone up." "I want to have muscles and no belly." It's said in so many different ways but it all means the same.
Lean muscle mass is the key to weight loss because it burns more calories than fat even when at rest, so getting enough protein is important for us to reach those fitness goals we all have.
And by the way ladies, it's a myth that by losing weight a woman will automatically lose her muscles. in fact in some cases when a woman starts dieting she may actually start losing muscle instead which actually hinders further weight loss. This is also because typically when "dieting" we put ourselves in such low caloric deficit that is has the reverse effect, but that's a different topic for another time.
4. Protein helps to improve recovery, cardiovascular health and decrease cholesterol, fat and sugar levels. Did you know that by maintaining blood glucose levels it can prevent excess fat gain or excess weight gain? (Cue the emoji with eyes wide open here.) Yes, protein helps maintain blood glucose levels and prevents excess weight gain. I know what you're thinking, why can't we just put Protein into a pill and pop that baby on the daily like skittles and rock out our glass of wine like it's a name pin at a speed dating event? Wishful thinking.
Protein is also needed for energy before and after a workout and allows you to train harder and more often without undercutting your recovery between workouts. You know what that means? Gains Baby!
And I'm not talking about mass, no no. I'm talking about PROGRESS.
I feel like reason #4 could have easily been made into three different parts so for the sake of giving you more, because that's how I roll (I'm clearly an overachiever)... You're welcome. :)
5. Protein is easy to supplement. That's where Protein powders come in to play. Protein powders can be a great source of protein, especially if you're looking for an easy way to get more protein in your diet. They come in many different forms and flavors. Honestly they're making almost any flavor imaginable these days. I tried All Max's Iso Flex cinnamon toast crunch the other day and my tongue almost did a rain dance. My personal favorite is Trulean's Frosted Vanilla Cake Whey Isolate Protein though. It keeps it simple but with bursting vanilla cake flavor and I'm a sucker for vanilla cake. Their other flavors are great too, but that vanilla cake man. Mmmm.
Ok, I'll wipe the drool from my mouth long enough to tell you that it's also affordable. I saw a price drop the other day that was $52 for a 2lb bag. For quality Protein that's great!
Speaking of quality, when choosing a protein powder, look for one that is made of high-quality ingredients. The label should state the type of protein inside and indicate if it has added sweeteners. Look below the nutrition facts on the package for carbohydrates, sugar, fat and cholesterol content. You want to aim for about 2g or less of carbs per serving with less than 2g of sugar and less than 5g of fat. Keep in mind that some powders have added vitamins, minerals or other ingredients so check the label for more details.
Protein Powders usually contain whey protein, which is the best type of protein powder anyone can take. Whey protein comes from cow's milk and is rich in branched chain amino acids which are hard to find in natural food sources. Whey protein also contains essential fatty acids that will help you lose weight. Hence why Protein shakes are so popular among the fittest people in the world.
If you have read this far it either means that you actually got some useful information out of this article, or you are my biggest fan and love my humor.
I'm sure it's the ladder :)
To sum it up, don't be fooled or tricked into believing Protein isn't important if you want to lose weight. Do some research, it's science. You need it, plain and simple. Without enough Protein in your daily nutrition it will make it difficult to reach your fitness goals. Your muscles won't recover well, it'll be harder to burn fat and keep your lean muscle, and you'll be more hungry. A good place to start is to shoot for at least .8 grams per pound of bodyweight daily.
Hope this article helps you and finds you well.
certified personal trainer and nutritionist
owner of North Phoenix Fit Body Boot Camp