When we want to lose weight, our real objective will be to Lose Fat, otherwise we would compromise our muscle tissue. In fact, protein plays a crucial role in this process. Let’s find out why…
Protein to lose weight
Take a correct amount of protein
A proper intake of protein helps to preserve the muscle mass and stimulates its growth. Therefore, it increases the metabolic rate. In addition, protein produces a feeling of satiety and we need more calories to digest it than other nutrients. Above all, this is due to its thermogenic effect.
Reduce the catabolism
During the fat loss processes, the lean muscle mass is susceptible to catabolism or muscle breakdown to obtain energy. This tends to happen specially if there is a a lack of carbohydrates together with intense physical exercise. However, our body has other ways to obtain glucose from other sources which are not necessarily carbohydrates.
This metabolic pathway is known as gluconeogenesis. In this case, it uses amino acids as substrate (except for lysine and leucine). That is why it is advisable to increase the protein intake during this phase.
Usually, those who start a diet adjusted to their condition in order to lose weight feel unmotivated after weighing themselves in the scale.
But this is a mistake. Reaching a specific weight should not be a goal.
Our objective should be improving the physical composition: lose fat and gain muscle mass. This will affect aspects of our day to day: how our clothes fit, how do we look in the mirror…
How Does Protein Help to Lose Weight?
It has a powerful satiating effect
Eating protein, when compared to other macronutrients (carbohydrates and fat) produces satiety and regulates the appetite. Consequently, it can help to suppress the feeling of hunger so that we will eat less in the next meal.
Knowing that protein produces a more powerful satiating effect than any other nutrients, let’s take advantage of this dietary strategy
High Thermogenic Effect
Our body burns calories when we digest food. This process is known as Thermogenic Effect of Food or TEF. The digestion of protein (complex molecules) takes more resources than other nutrients. Therefore, this means that the body will use more calories just to metabolize them.
While fat and carbohydrates need between a 10-15% of the energy from a meal to be digested, protein needs a 25% of a meal.
It Stimulates the Muscle Growth
Protein is anabolic, since it provides amino acids to your body. To put it briefly, these are the basic units to build and regenerate tissues. The essential amino acids belong to this group and our cannot synthesize them, which is why we need to obtain them from the diet.
Therefore, we will need to eat animal protein and combine different sources of vegetable protein
Without a proper amino acid supply, it would be impossible to grow, repair and preserve the muscle tissue. Having enough amino acids will result in a positive nitrogen balance or anabolic state to gain muscle. However, it is not enough to have a complete protein in order to stimulate the muscle growth processes.
Only certain complete proteins are enough to stimulate the growth of muscle mass. It seems that this is due to the amount of leucine, which is the one in charge of triggering the muscle synthesis. Therefore, instead of eating a lot of protein, the important thing is to make sure that they have enough leucine.
- Leidy HJ, Clifton PM, Astrup A, Wycherley TP, Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Luscombe-Marsh ND, Woods SC, Mattes RD. The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Jun;101(6):1320S-1329S. Epub 2015 Apr 29.
- Long SJ, Jeffcoat AR, Millward DJ. Effect of habitual dietary-protein intake on appetite and satiety. Appetite. 2000 Aug;35(1):79-88.
- MacKenzie-Shalders KL, Byrne NM, Slater GJ, King NA. The effect of a whey protein supplement dose on satiety and food intake in resistance training athletes. Appetite. 2015 Sep;92:178-84. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.05.007. Epub 2015 May 12.
- Klaas R Westerterp. Diet induced thermogenesis. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2004; 1: 5. Published online 2004 Aug 18. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-1-5
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