Why protein is essential…
Nearly every health and fitness diet post on the internet will talk about protein and how important it is to you. Known as the building blocks of the body it’s synonymous with bodybuilders and athletes but here we’ll explain why protein is essential when trying to lose fat and why you should definitely be focusing on this macronutrient.
What is protein?
Protein is made up of amino acids and used in the body for many things including to build and repair organs and muscles, create hormones and as an energy source. It’s found in meat, fish, and dairy and also in nuts, seeds and veg.
How does that help me?
First let’s talk about energy balance. To lose weight you need to be in a state of negative energy balance. Essentially this means you burn off more calories than you consume. This is quite a simple equation but for many it can be hard to achieve. This is where protein comes in to help, for energy in and energy out.
The calories you eat are made up of 3 macro nutrients or “macros”. Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats. Science tells us that each gram of these macros contains a set amount of calories.
Protein has 4 calories per gram
Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram
Fats have 9 calories per gram
If you’re trying to lose weight then consuming low calorie foods is what you want to do, so lean protein is a great choice due to the lower calories per gram.
What else does Protein do?
Makes you feel full
Protein has the impact of increasing satiety after a meal and therefore making you feel fuller for longer. For example, a meal high in protein will make you feel more satisfied and less hungry later in the day than a meal low in protein but containing the same amount of calories.
Burns more calories
Protein has a high thermic effect. TEF or the ‘thermic effect of food’ is basically how much energy it takes to break down the food that we eat. Protein takes 20-30% more energy than fats or carbohydrates to break down so by having more protein in your diet your automatically burning more calories
Without adequate protein, muscle building wont occur. How does this help with fat loss? Well put simply it increases your resting metabolism and therefore by having more muscle mass you will burn more calories throughout the day. So eat your protein and build your muscle mass.
If you are trying to lose fat then first you need to address your energy balance but having a high protein diet is going to help you on both sides of the equation.