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High protein diets for weight loss: The facts you need to know

WRITTEN BY RYAN PINTO

Contributor - Head Nutritionist & Sports Dietitian

Regardless of whether you’re looking to tone up a little or focus more on fat loss, a high protein diet has a number of benefits that can maximise your weight loss journey. Weight loss and protein go hand-in-hand, so read on to find out more!

 

What role does protein play?

Protein is one of three macronutrients that food is made from; it’s a key fuel source for thousands of processes within the body. Once ingested, the main role of protein is to help fuel, build and recover lean muscle mass. If we don’t consume enough protein on a regular basis, we can see our muscle mass literally deplete before our eyes!

How do high protein diets work?

A high protein diet has a variety of benefits, from helping with satiety to keeping you fuller for longer and stopping regular food cravings. This is why increasing protein for weight loss is so effective. It also plays a role in muscle recovery and increases lean muscle mass.

When it comes to knowing how protein stacks up to other macronutrients, food-based protein digests at a slower rate compared to refined carbohydrate foods, especially with regards to a protein found within dairy called Casein, which digests at a much slower rate. This is how protein helps with satiety and keeps us full for long periods of time.

A high protein diet has even been found to have broader-reaching effects than just increasing your strength and muscle mass; it can assist with chronic conditions by maintaining a lower blood glucose level in the body. Plant-based proteins have been found to be especially beneficial, specifically with reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Other conditions protein can help to reduce are:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular diseases

What is the best protein source?

When assessing protein quality, we are actually examining how easily a type of protein can be absorbed by the body, otherwise known as its bioavailability. Different protein sources are absorbed at different rates; some much more easily than others. Researchers have found animal-based protein absorbs better than plant-based sources. And, with a growing number of people looking at plant-based options, there are now plenty of convenient plant-based protein sources available which meet daily protein per serve recommendations. Eating a plant-based diet out has never been easier!

Whether you’re shifting to plant-based meals or not, here is a guide on high protein foods for weight loss to include in your diet.

Sources of protein

How much protein should I be eating?

For general health and to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s recommended that we consume 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. Essentially, your weight x (1g to 1.5g) = your total daily target of protein to keep you muscles in tip top shape.

For more active individuals who are burning more energy, things are a little different. Regular trainers looking to maximise their recovery are recommended to consume 1.6 to 2.2 grams of protein x their bodyweight per day.

We’ve made it a little easier for you with the below diagram to find your protein intake (g/kg).

Daily Protein Intake

Do I need to eat protein with every meal?

So how do we best spread out all of this protein throughout the day? Ideally, the total amount of protein you receive from the above calculation should be divided into 4 servings per day i.e. breakfast, lunch, a mid-afternoon snack and dinner.

For example, an active 80kg male would be required to consume (80 x 1.6g - 2.2g) 128g - 176g per day, so ideally, divided across the three meals and snack, 32 g - 44 g of protein each time they eat.

Regardless of your goal, having a high protein intake everyday will keep you fuller, reduce cravings, and help you build and recover lean muscle mass. Whatever your source of protein, try to include at least one in every meal and snack each day!

How much protein should I eat to lose weight?

According to the graph above, it’s recommended that for individuals trying to lose weight, daily protein consumption should be be 2.2g per kg. The result? A fuller, happier and stronger version of yourself. Go on then, get to that protein!