My top points when looking at protein needs in general and when trying to lose weight. My top points when looking at protein needs in general and when trying to lose weight.
- When our aim is weight loss by default we need to be in a calorie deficit (eating fewer calories than we need) to achieve the desired results. Protein can support this because it is the more satiating macronutrient therefore making us feel fuller for longer which can be much needed when hunger kicks in as you begin your diet. Fiber can also have a similar effect by bulking out the food, slowing down the digestive process as with protein usually taking a longer time to break down and digest.
- Having your protein equally split out throughout the day isn’t needed but it can massively help with the above point as well as balancing blood sugar high’s and low’s. Pairing protein with carbohydrates will lower the GI of that particular carb and be broken down together therefore effecting blood sugar gradually often giving you a more controlled energy supply. I think everyone can relate to a sugar low / hypo after eating to much sugar at once.
- Protein’s impact of energy expenditure is higher in comparison to fats and carbs. The thermal effect of food means how much energy the body put’s into breaking down the food we put into the body. As protein often comes from animal sources it can be difficult to breakdown, firstly from chewing and secondly from the stomach’s need to produce digestive enzymes to break it down so we can use it for energy and nutrients.
- During weight loss we tend to lose mass from both muscle and fat storage, this is unavoidable but we want to minimize the loss of muscle and utilize fat loss as much as possible. We do this by eating adequate amounts of protein to support the preservation of current tissue and do resistance training 2-4 times a week will suffice. People often fall into the trap of looking at the scales and seeing weight loss but not realizing the proportion of muscle and fat lost. There is no real accurate way to measure this but I like to have an idea with measurements and skinfold testing to give us an indicator.
- Most people now know that one of proteins main roles is to support growth and repair in the body which is even heightened for athletes and physically active people as protein is not a first choice when it comes to a source of energy / fuel. Protein is required to promote growth, repair damaged cells, and synthesize hormones. It can come from a variety of sources, but animal sources provide the essential amino acids and are considered complete proteins. There are multiple studies showing that those who engage in exercise require more dietary protein than sedentary individuals. Furthermore, evidence indicates that ingesting protein prior to or after exercise can enhance recovery, immune function, along with growth and maintenance of lean body mass. It is important to note that any macronutrient in excess can lead to weight gain if a surplus happens as a result, this will stop you achieving your goals so we need to account for this into our deficit. A guideline I often give people is 1.6-1.8 grams per kilo of lean body weight and arrange your carbohydrate and fat intake accordingly.
High protein foods
- Greek yogurt
High protein non-animal sources
- Chick peas / hummus
Good luck moving forward with your weight loss goals and introduction of adequate amounts of protein. A lot of people struggle with the quantity of protein been suggested to begin with but persistence is needed and forward planning. Planning out meals ahead of time is vital and finding high protein snacks that you can have to help you reach you protein target.
Atherton, P. and Smith, K. (2012). Muscle protein synthesis in response to nutrition and exercise. The Journal of Physiology, 590(5), pp.1049-1057.
Burd, N., West, D., Moore, D., Atherton, P., Staples, A., Prior, T., Tang, J., Rennie, M., Baker, S. and Phillips, S. (2011). Enhanced Amino Acid Sensitivity of Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis Persists for up to 24 h after Resistance Exercise in Young Men. Journal of Nutrition, 141(4), pp.568-573.
Dreyer, H., Fujita, S., Cadenas, J., Chinkes, D., Volpi, E. and Rasmussen, B. (2006). Resistance exercise increases AMPK activity and reduces 4E-BP1 phosphorylation and protein synthesis in human skeletal muscle. The Journal of Physiology, 576(2), pp.613-624.