There are many misconceptions about protein that need to be addressed. Many people believe that consuming any amount of protein will lead to unwanted or overdeveloped muscles, but the truth is that protein actually helps in achieving a slim figure. Calorie-counters tend to stay clear of foods that are rich in protein when in reality they are not getting nearly enough.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, more than 30% of women between age 20 and 40 do not get their daily recommended amount of protein in their diet, and the statistics are only slightly better for men. The major lack of protein intake amongst men and women is a huge contributor to why so many people struggle with their weight management goals. Protein is a key factor not only in losing weight, but in keeping the weight off as well. Let’s “break down” the top reasons why eating protein is the key to achieving your ideal weight.
1. All Calories Are Not Created Equal
Calorie counting is an ineffective dieting method. It does not accurately measure what your body is ingesting and can not be a way to determine how much to eat and/or drink in a day. For example, what would you expect to happen if you got 2,000 calories from processed, high-sugar foods like cereal, soda and candy?
Or, on the other hand, you can get the same 2,000 calories from a diet high in healthy fats and proteins. Such experiments have been conducted and to no surprise, the people who had the high sugar diet put on weight, while the high protein dieters typically lost or maintained their weight.
2. High Protein Foods Burn More Calories
Protein takes a lot of effort from our bodies to metabolize and break down, which has a few implications. The effort exerted to digest the protein that we eat is a process that burns calories. Digesting proteins burns more calories than digesting fats or carbohydrates.
Since they take longer to metabolize, proteins provide us with increased, lengthened feelings of fullness. As a result, we end up burning more calories and eating less - without feeling hungry.
4. Protein Protects Your Muscle and Burns the Fat
When dieting, protein helps to ensure that the weight you are losing is fat, not muscle. Protein is broken into amino acids, which maintain the muscle in our bodies. In a past study published in The FASEB Journal, thirty-nine people were given one of two weight loss diets; one diet had double the amount of protein when compared to the other diet. All of the subjects lost similar amounts of weight, but the higher-protein diet subjects lost the most fat.
5. A Pound of Muscle Uses Much More Energy than a Pound of Fat
Our bodies are burning fuel, also known as calories, even when we are at rest. Each and every organ requires this fuel to function, including muscle and fat. It is said that each pound of muscle burns somewhere between 1.5 and 6.5 calories per hour, but each pound of fat only burns a fraction of that (as low as 10%). Despite the debate over the calorie burning range, it is clear that even a small amount of muscle can add to our daily (passive) calorie burning.
The more muscle on the body, the higher the resting metabolic rate is. This is why people always say it is easier to maintain weight than to change it.
There is a big debate about the recommended amount of protein for weight loss, but there is overall agreement that the government’s suggested daily intake of protein is too low. If you are trying to lose weight, use this calculation: your weight (in pounds) x 0.62 = the grams of protein you should be consuming. So for a 120 pound woman, 74 grams of protein would be ideal, not the 50 grams in the recommended daily allowance.
Hopefully this cleared up some of the myths about protein and has emboldened you to have that extra piece of salmon tonight at dinner!
This article was written by Colin Darretta, Founder and CEO of WellPath Solutions.