Why do I need to use protein to lose weight? Isn’t weight loss just about calories?
Well, while keeping your daily caloric intake lower than the amount you take in is essential to losing weight, things become MASSIVELY easier when you realize the incredible benefits of protein to losing weight. Read on to learn how it works!
Why will protein help me lose weight?
Getting 25-30% of your daily calories from protein has been proven to increase your metabolism, with the boost translating to your body burning an additional 80 to 100 calories per day.
But the weight loss benefits of protein don’t stop there. It also significantly reduces hunger, because protein keeps you feeling full and satisfied longer than calories that come from carbs or fat.
One study found that women who increased their protein intake to 30% of their daily calories ate 441 fewer calories each day. This translated to an average of 11 pounds lost over just 12 weeks, by doing nothing more than eating more protein.
So how much protein do I need?
The Dietary Reference Intake recommends 46g of protein per day for the average sedentary woman, but it’s important to note that is the absolute minimum amount. Going lower than that level would make you deficient.
If you are doing cardio, strength training, or have a life that actually involves getting up and moving around every once in a while, you’re going to need more than that. Women who are pregnant or nursing will also require more protein.
Those looking to lose weight should try to eat about 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. But don’t use your current weight for the calculation, use your goal weight.
For example, if you’re currently over 200 pounds but your goal weight is 145, then shooting for about 100 grams of protein per day would be perfect. If you weigh 160 but would like to get down to around 135, then go for 95 grams per day.
Just remember to adjust what you’re eating each day so that your calorie intake doesn’t get too high. A good, free way to keep track of how much you’re eating and where the calories are coming from is My Fitness Pal.
You’ll remember that I said earlier to look for about 25-30% of your calories coming from protein. The remaining calories you’re eating should be evenly split (as best you’re able) between carbs and fat, so about 35% for each.
How does protein make it easier to keep weight off?
Higher protein intake is required to maintain lean muscle that gives us the toned look we’re all after. Having more lean muscle on your body will not only give you a gorgeous figure — it also increases the amount of calories your body burns daily, making it easier to keep the fat away!
How do I get more protein in my diet?
For starters, you’re probably already getting more protein each day than you realize, so I hope the optimal numbers I gave you earlier didn’t seem like too much. Using an online food tracker is a fantastic, easy way to track things and help you reach your goal.
Still, most women are going to need a bit more each day to reach those levels. Do this by making foods high in protein a focus of each meal.
This means making foods like turkey, tuna, chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy products mainstays of your daily diet. Non-meat sources that are good choices include legumes, quinoa, and nuts.
It’s important to note, however, that nuts tend to be very dense in calories, so if you’re trying to lose weight then you’ll probably want to avoid them or eat them only as a small, quick snack.
“I’m still having trouble getting enough protein”
Reaching those levels of protein each day can be difficult if you don’t eat meat, or have a very active lifestyle that makes cooking more of a “what’s fastest” rather than “what’s best” kind of affair. But there’s still an easy solution!
Protein powders have come a long ways over the years. They’re not just for men, bodybuilders, or people that want to gain weight — and the options available have increased significantly. There’s even many types of vegan protein powders around these days.
A typical protein shake (mixed with 1 cup of skim milk) will get you 40g of protein at 250 calories or less. Mixing, drinking, and rinsing takes 1-2 minutes max, so don’t try and say you don’t have time for that!
If you’re doing strength training, have a protein shake within an hour of finishing your workout to allow your muscles to make the best use of it possible. They can also be great in the mornings if you’re short on time, or late at night to satisfy a sweet tooth.
What about the rest of my diet?
Knowing the huge advantage protein gives you when you’re trying to lose weight is a great start (and much further than most people ever get). But obviously you’re going to need more specific info if you want to move forward.
Nutrition researcher John Barban has long been known for his focus on the inherent differences between men and women when it comes to getting results from diet and exercise. He recently started emphasizing what he calls the “5 wonder veggies for women.”
Studies showed that when women added these common vegetables to their diet their metabolisms (and as a result, weight loss) increased significantly, regardless of the woman’s lifestyle or body shape. Learn the 5 veggies in this video (1:05 mark) that explains how it works.
I hope this has answered all the questions you had about how to use protein to lose weight, and how to work other foods in as well. To take advantage of their proven weight loss benefits, make veggies and protein-rich foods a regular part of your diet. Add in protein shakes as well to make things more simple.
Good luck, and be sure to pin this in case you need a reminder on how to calculate how much protein you should be getting everyday! 🙂