It seems everywhere we look someone is promoting a new weight loss diet that praises the power of protein. But whether you want to lose, gain, or maintain your current weight, the importance of protein goes far beyond physical appearance and muscle building. Participants in a study recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported greater satisfaction, less hunger, and weight loss when fat was reduced to 20% of the total calories in their diets, protein was increased to 30%, and carbohydrates (carbs) accounted for 50%.
The study participants ate some 441 fewer calories a day when they followed this high-protein diet and regulated their own calorie intake. Another study, reported in the Journal of Nutrition, showed that a high protein diet combined with exercise enhanced weight and fat loss and improved blood fat (lipid) levels.
"Our research suggests that higher-protein diets help people better control their appetites and calorie intake," says researcher Donald Layman, PhD, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
"Diets higher in protein and moderate in carbs, along with a lifestyle of regular exercise have an excellent potential to reduce blood lipids and maintain lean tissue while burning fat for fuel without dieters being sidetracked with constant hunger."
A Necessity for Every Body
Protein is an important component of every cell in the body. It is an organic compound, composed of 22 amino acids, otherwise known as the building blocks of life. Protein is stored in muscles and organs and the body utilizes it to build and repair tissues, as well as for the production of enzymes and hormones. Proteins also make it possible for blood to carry oxygen throughout the body. Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is a "macronutrient," meaning the body needs relatively large amounts of it. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences has concluded that our daily protein requirements should be 10% to 35% of our total caloric intake, with men needing slightly more than women. A lack of protein can cause loss of muscle mass, decreased immunity, as well as weakening of the heart and respiratory system.
How Protein Affects Your Weight
The widespread popularity of high-protein diets is due in large part to their ability to help manage hunger. When protein is absorbed, it sends a signal to the brain to decrease your hunger. Another benefit of protein is that it raises your resting metabolism by maintaining muscle mass. As we age, muscle mass decreases without exercise, so staying fit is a key to burning fat by keeping your metabolism high. Protein also leads to a much less rapid rise and fall of blood sugar and insulin, so you avoid the "sugar highs and lows" after eating sweets without adequate protein. Certain foods, however, provide a healthier resource for protein than others.
Through dieting, the body experiences a negative caloric intake. To compensate it takes from both its fat stores and lean body tissue to maintain its energy requirements. To preserve lean body mass and lose weight from our unwanted fat stores, protein supplementation is necessary. Consistent protein intake on a daily basis with a restricted calorie diet is essential. To accomplish this, your protein supplement must contain adequate amounts of high-quality protein, yet remain low in overall calories and fat.
Milk, 1 C. - 8 grams
Cheddar/Swiss, 1 oz - 7 grams
Cottage Cheese, ½ C. - 12 grams
Yogurt, 1 C. - 7 grams
Chicken, 3oz. - 25 grams
Egg (1), - 6 grams
Turkey, 3oz. - 27 grams
Beef, 3oz - 20 grams
Pork, 3oz. - 21 grams
Haddock, 3oz. - 16 grams
Salmon, 3oz. - 17 grams
Halibut, 3-½ oz. - 26 grams
Peanut Butter, 1 tbsp, - 4 grams
Walnuts, ¼ C. - 6 grams
Navy, Kidney, Pinto Beans, ½ C. - 7 grams
Here's a diet so powerful you can lose weight without exercising or harsh diet pills.