Crash diet, speed diet, or would you prefer a juice cleanse? There is a lot of information on the internet these days about the best way how to get to your “dream weight”. In fact, much of the information there is questionable. Check out this blog and my upcoming podcast on “The PJ Wellness Show” to learn how to start your protein-based weight management journey without limiting yourself entirely.
How to lose weight – the basics
The only viable trick when it comes to weight management is: Take it slow - by being motivated, staying patient, eating healthy and exercising.
Weight loss, scientifically speaking (and without taking personal circumstances into account), works like this: Burn more calories than you consume. Our bodies use calories for energy. This energy is used up by the body and the excess is essentially stored as fat. If you consume more calories than you need, you will gain weight. A calorie deficit, where we burn more calories than we eat, leads to weight loss. This deficit can be achieved in several ways. One of them is to increase your protein intake.
Proteins and Weight Loss
Eating a high protein diet is a great way to reduce calorie consumption while maximizing satiety and metabolism. It affects the hormones in our brain that signal the feeling of satiety. This helps us stay full longer. Proteins also boost your metabolism to burn fat and maintain muscle mass. Weight loss often leads to a reduction in fat stores and muscle mass. That is, the more weight we lose, the fewer calories we burn because we have fewer muscles to use the energy. Eating a high protein diet prevents muscle mass from being lost and thus ensures the speed at which we burn calories. Also, your body burns more calories by digesting protein.
What is a high protein diet?
Personally, I prefer to call it a diet “rich in protein”, where you work on getting plenty of protein — probably more than you are used to getting — as the first focus of your eating patterns. Protein-rich foods include eggs, meat, seafood, legumes, and dairy products. These foods are not only high in protein but high in nutrients in general. That means a high-protein diet is also a high nutrition diet.
Therefore, a protein rich diet can be very helpful for weight loss because it supplies plenty of the raw materials needed to maintain your muscles and your metabolism, both of which help ensure that you’re burning calories at an appropriate rate.
How much Protein should I eat to stay healthy?
There is no universally agreed-upon definition of a high-protein diet, and what you consider “high” may depend on where you start.
As a nutritional coach, I define adequate protein as anywhere from 0.8 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight and day to be considered healthy. For a man weighing 80 kilograms (177 lbs), that would be between 64 and 200 grams per day. If I go along with my definition, I would consider a protein rich diet between 0.8 and 1.6 grams/kg and any protein intake above 1.6 grams/kg as a high-protein diet. Another good form of measurement is to make protein 25 to 35% of your daily consumed calories.
You can already get enough protein to achieve the minimum amount with a 6oz steak (= 42 grams of protein) and three slices of cheese (= 25 grams of protein). You can also reach the same amount without meat, namely with one egg, three slices of bread, a glass of milk, a portion of cottage cheese and a cup of lentil soup. Anyone who eats a lot of meat (beef, poultry), fish or uses protein shakes can easily get over the limit to be considered healthy.
Based on nutrition science everyone agrees today that a balanced and healthy meal consists of a quarter of protein and a quarter of carbohydrates, with the other half being vegetables.
How about Protein Shakes?
We mostly associate protein supplements with gym types trying to build or maintain muscle. There is a lot of evidence to support the idea that people who are working out to gain or maintain muscle mass need a higher protein diet. People who exercise intensely consume more energy and exert more energy and use their muscles in the course of a workout (or other exercise sessions). If you're trying to build muscle or have a tendency to exercise when you don't have time for a post-workout meal, a protein shake is a great choice.
Those trying to lose weight by cutting back on their caloric intake could also benefit from protein supplements to ensure they are not losing muscle mass while they are shedding the pounds. A protein shake is an easy way to make sure you're getting enough protein without adding a ton of other calories. Protein also helps you feel full longer, so you feel less hungry after you've had a shake.
you should be aware of two things. Protein Shakes are not a "magic bullet" when it comes to weight loss. Obviously, they still have calories that are absorbed by the body and should therefore not be taken in addition to meals (but rather as an alternative, from time to time) to support you on your weight management journey. Also, you shouldn't put any pressure on yourself when trying to lose weight. Find a way that suits you, that doesn't leave you hungry and that connects with your everyday life.
As you can see, understanding the correct use of proteins in your diet can make a significant contribution to achieving your individual fitness, weight, and health goals.
This post gave you some initial ideas and suggestions. But as you have now learned, even a protein-rich diet does not automatically mean that you really consume all the ingredients for your health, effective muscle building or fat loss. This topic is so important because it not only leads you to physical fitness, but will also help you to be stronger, more energetic and healthier from the inside.
If you want to dive deeper into the subject and want to know more how protein can help you reach your individual goals and how to make it part of your nutritional plan, then subscribe and listen in to my next week’s podcast on “The PJ Wellness Show”.
Still unsure? I have good news for you!