Protein is one of the three macronutrients we need each day – protein, fat and carbs. It’s not healthy to eliminate any one of them. Often protein is greatly underutilized, especially by women. Clean protein provides numerous health benefits. A lack of protein in your diet can lead to numerous problems, including loss of muscle, fatigue, stunted growth, and weakened immunity among many other things.
As with any other nutrient, quality is key. Animal protein must come from grass fed and finished, pasture raised or wild caught animals to avoid antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals. I did an entire newsletter on protein not too long ago that you can access right here.
Today I’ll just focus in on the benefits for weight loss. Including an adequate amount of protein in your meals daily is needed for building new muscle. And because muscle tissue is very active and uses more energy than less active tissue, the more muscle you have, the more fat you’ll burn.
Now understand I am not encouraging a super high protein diet, which can cause problems of its own. For example, your body can use about 30 grams of protein after working out to replenish muscle. However, whatever isn’t used for building muscle can be used for all the other functions mentioned above. Excess protein can also be converted into glucose and used to make energy in a process known as gluconeogenesis. The problem with that is that if your body doesn’t quickly burn the glucose created, it can then be converted into fat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get converted back into protein. So overdoing it is counterproductive for weight loss.
In Today is Still the Day I recommend eating 3-4 oz. of clean protein at each meal or 2-3 eggs or a protein shake. Eating adequate protein, especially during weight loss, is essential to maintaining lean muscle mass. That’s more than enough protein for most of us, unless you are a body builder or super athlete.
Briefly, here are 3 ways protein supports your weight loss efforts:
Protein uses more energy to digest than carbohydrates and fat. This is the thermic effect of food (TEF). This means you’ll burn 15-20% more calories by eating a 4 oz. serving of chicken as opposed to a serving of pasta.
Protein doesn’t cause sharp spikes in blood sugar and insulin. Maintaining these at optimal levels is an important component of weight loss, weight management, and type 2 diabetes prevention.
Protein is satisfying and keeps you feeling full long after your meal, so you’re less likely to overeat or snack between meals.
So if you are trying to lose weight, consider looking carefully at not only your protein consumption but also at the quality of your protein.
Do you include a moderate amount of clean protein in your meals?
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I agree, Ann. Cutting any one of the macros isn’t healthy. It’s unfortunate that so many of the fad diets do just that. Thanks for all the work you do to keep us striving for health.
Thank you Holly!