Going on a high-protein diet may help you control your hunger, which could help you lose weight.
Protein makes up the building blocks of organs, muscles, skin, hormones and pretty much everything that matters in your body. Protein is incredibly important for good health and it’s a nutrient that must be consumed every day to meet what your body’s needs.
A diet high in protein also lowers blood pressure, fights diabetes and more
For this reason, you should eat high-quality protein at every meal.
The Best Protein Sources
Choose protein sources that are nutrient-rich and lower in saturated fat and calories, such as:
Whole eggs are among the healthiest and most nutritious foods on the planet.
They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, eye-protecting antioxidants and brain nutrients that most people don’t get enough of.
Whole eggs are high in protein, but egg whites are almost pure protein.
They are loaded with important nutrients, including fiber, vitamin E, manganese and magnesium.
If you tolerate milk and enjoy drinking it, then milk can be an excellent source of high-quality protein.
Lean beef is very high in protein, and also tastes delicious.
It is loaded with highly bioavailable iron, vitamin B12 and large amounts of other important nutrients.
Like other fish, tuna is also very high in various nutrients and contains a decent amount of omega-3 fats.
Quinoa is a seed/grain that is currently among the world’s most popular superfoods.
It is high in many vitamins, minerals and fiber, and is loaded with antioxidants.
Lentils are a type of legume.
They are high in fiber, magnesium, potassium, iron, folate, copper, manganese and various other nutrients.
Lentils are among the world’s best sources of plant-based protein, and are an excellent food for vegetarians and vegans.
It’s a good idea to change up your protein foods. For instance, you could have salmon or Sardines that are rich in omega-3s, beans or lentils that give you fiber as well as protein, walnuts on your salad, or almonds on your oatmeal.
It is recommended to eat more lean proteins and eat less of these:
- Refined carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, and white rice
- Sugar, including candy and sweetened condiments
- Saturated fats and fried foods
Like most weight-loss plans, a high-protein diet has its share of benefits and drawbacks.
Eating a diet that includes plenty of lean protein provides several benefits when you’re trying to lose weight
- Protein helps you to feel full. Including protein in your meals and snacks can help you to feel full and satisfied after you’re done eating.
- Eating protein burns more calories. You burn a few extra calories when you eat protein because your body has to work harder to chew and digest the food.
- Protein builds muscle. Protein helps you build and maintain muscle mass.
- Providing enzymes that help power thousands of chemical reactions throughout the body
- Helping the body maintain and repair hair, skin, muscles, and bones
Protein also provides amino acids. There are 22 amino acids, nine of which are essential to obtain from the diet because the body does not produce them.
While high-protein diets may have many benefits, there are some potential drawbacks.
- High cholesterol. Some protein sources like fatty cuts of meat, whole dairy products, and other high-fat foods can raise cholesterol, increasing your chance of heart disease.
- Nutritional deficiencies. Some high-protein diets severely restrict carbohydrates and can result in nutritional deficiencies which lacks fiber, which leads to constipation. In addition, a high-protein diet can lead to bad breath.
- Worsening of kidney functions. People with kidney disease should not follow a high protein diet without consulting with their doctor. Excess protein is excreted through the kidneys, which may worsen kidney function.
Find a program that includes vegetables, so you don’t miss out on fiber and other important nutrients.
How to Follow a High-Protein Diet
Any healthy diet for weight loss or wellness should include a balance of three macronutrients: fat, carbohydrate, and protein. A high-protein diet contains at least 20 percent of calories from protein.
The amount of protein you should eat depends on a few factors including your age, gender, body size, and activity level.
- RDA for healthy adults: Minimum of 0.8 g/kg/day (54 grams for a person weighing 150 pounds)
- Exercisers: 1.2 to 1.7 g/kg/day (82 to 116 grams for a person weighing 150 pounds)
- Consume 10 to 35 percent of your total calories as protein.
There is no suggested meal timing for a high-protein diet, although some people on a high protein plan also practice intermittent fasting, which is either restricting calories to certain days and fasting on others or going a longer period of time without eating, such as 16 hours a day.
- Start your day with protein. Eggs make a protein-rich and filling breakfast. If you don’t have time or not in the mood for eggs, a smoothie made with protein powder, such as whey protein, leafy greens, and berries can be a great start.
- Include protein at every meal. Plan meals around a protein, such as lean beef, chicken, or pork, and fill the rest of your plate with vegetables.
- Skip processed carbs. Instead of eating refined grains, like white rice, pasta, and bread, include small portions of whole grains that are high in protein, like amaranth or quinoa. You can also replace pasta with spiralized zucchini or carrots, and substituted riced cauliflower for white rice.
- Snack on protein. Keep high-protein snacks on hand for when between meal hunger strikes. Almonds, greek yogurt, hummus, ricotta, and string cheese all make convenient snacks on the go.
Keep a food diary: Start a food diary using an app or website that provides protein values for thousands of foods and allows you to set your own calorie and macronutrient goals.
Consume well-balanced meals: Balance high-protein foods with vegetables, fruits and other plant foods at every meal.
A higher protein intake is linked to beneficial effects on appetite, weight, body composition, aging and overall health.
The best diet for you is the diet that you can stick to. For some, this is a high-protein weight loss plan. If eating more protein helps you to eat less all day and build a stronger, more active body, then it may be the best program for you. But remember that calories matter most when you’re trying to slim down. So track your total calories and protein to lose weight and keep the pounds off for good.
If you plan to add a lot of protein to your diet, or if you have liver or kidney disease, check with your doctor first.