Wanting to lose weight is something that many of us are familiar with. Those extra pounds can happen for a variety of reasons.
While losing weight doesn’t happen overnight, it’s not as difficult as you think as long as the steps you’re taking to try to lose aren’t counterproductive.
You’ll want to stay away from fad diet eating plans and any advice that call on you to put your body at any kind of nutritional risk. Some of the risks associated with diets include ones that want you to eliminate certain foods such as protein.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when you’re trying to lose weight not getting enough protein with your meals.
Many people know some of the more widely reported foods that help with weight loss, but don’t know that protein foods are the best ones to help with a diet.
There’s a good reason for this.
You know how you eat a meal when you’re dieting and then two hours later all of a sudden you feel as if you haven’t eaten in days?
That’s what happens when you don’t get enough protein.
Protein stops hunger in its tracks. It can do this because protein foods don’t digest quickly like other foods do. It sticks around in your system longer, so you end up not feeling hungry for longer periods of time.
When you’re not hungry as often, it cuts down on those in-between meal cravings that inevitably lead to weight loss sabotage.
These snack cravings are caused by eating foods that don’t have enough nutritional value like protein does. Because your hunger is satisfied longer when you have protein, you won’t be eating as many calories throughout the day, which will also help fuel weight loss.
Also, when you have plenty of protein in your diet, you’re not dealing with the steep energy lows that drive people to grab whatever is handy to eat. Getting the shakes and feeling weak has led to some people consuming as much as an entire day’s worth of calories in one hunger fueled binge.
Since you’ll feel full longer, you’ll be able to better manage how you eat once you do feel hungry. More good news about making sure you eat protein for weight loss is that consuming it helps propel weight loss.
There are certain foods that, you once you eat them, run through your digestive system with very little effort involved in digesting them. But protein foods put your body to work during the digestive process.
Because of that, your body is burning calories at a longer and higher rate to digest meals containing protein than ones that don’t. So in effect, the simple act of eating is spurring on weight loss.
You’ll often see weight loss talked about in conjunction with fat burning. Your body can naturally burn fat, but not unless it has what it needs.
There’s a good reason for this. When you move around and go about your day, your body uses energy. It takes this energy from the foods that you consume. When you don’t have the type of foods that work to protect your lean muscles, then what happens is your body will lose muscle.
And that’s something that you don’t want. In order to protect your body from burning muscle rather than fat stores, it has to have protein.
Protein Can Help You Get Leaner
Protein comes in a variety of foods and some of it contains more grams than other types of foods. However you get your protein, it’s important if you’re trying to lose weight.
Protein speeds up the process of burning calories, it works to help keep you healthy and it builds muscles. It’s the type of food that you need on a daily basis when you want to burn fat and shed pounds.
But with all of the different diet advice on the market now, knowing how much and when to eat protein isn’t easy to figure out. You have to consume what your body needs and if the consumption of protein is out of balance, it can make losing weight more difficult.
You want to know exactly how much protein to have in your diet. Your muscles need protein in order to keep your metabolism higher. Without it, you won’t burn calories as fast because your muscles won’t have what they need.
So what’s a good rule of thumb to have when it comes to eating protein for the purpose of losing weight?
Your current weight and how much you move or exercise is what you need to go by to figure how much protein you need to have.
The more active you are every day as well as the harder you work out, the more protein you’ll need to eat. Someone who’s trying to lose weight and has a light activity level won’t need as much for their body as someone who has a harder, more intense activity level.
There was a study in 2015 that indicated that older adults built more muscle when they double their protein intake.
Calculate Your Protein Needs
You can find calculators and nutritional trackers online to help you meet your goals.
As I said, there are a lot of different viewpoints on how much you need. You will have to do a little research and experimentation to find out the right amount for your body.
Here are a few calculators to check out.
Spacing Your Protein Intake
Getting lean means that you should eat plenty of protein – but not all at once in big, heavy meals. Instead, you need to spread out the protein consumption throughout your day.
You can’t absorb all your daily needs in one meal. You will want to space out your intake. Aim for 20-30 grams at a time.
You want the protein to keep your glucose steady so that it keeps hunger at bay.
The Benefits of Protein During Weight Loss
By now, you already know that protein helps keep you feeling fuller, longer so that you’re not tempted to overeat and hinder your weight loss efforts. You also know that it helps your metabolism to stay in high gear.
But there’s a lot more than eating protein can do for you to help you be successful. Even carrying an extra ten pounds of weight can make you feel fatigued and can impact your muscle mass.
Because most people who do desire to lose weight don’t always eat the healthiest, they don’t get the daily recommended amount of protein. So they feel fatigued and experience a loss of muscle mass due to the deficit in their protein intake.
Once you correct that and make eating enough protein a priority, the fatigue will go away and you’ll see a difference in your muscle mass. People who are overweight – even by as little as twenty pounds – put themselves at risk for developing diseases like diabetes.
Making sure that your blood sugar levels don’t go through extreme ups and downs is one of the key ways to keep from developing weight gain related diabetes.
When it comes to trying to lose weight, there’s a side to it that a lot of people don’t often take into consideration. That’s the emotional element. Sure, people do get upset when weight loss efforts don’t seem to pay off – but there could be another reason to explain why you just feel a little off.
Maybe you feel a little down or more irritable than you used to be. One of the reasons that you may be experiencing problems with mood stabilization is due to not having protein in your diet.
Stabilizes Your Mood
Protein is known to not only stabilize your moods but it can also boost them. The amino acids in proteins are needed for your nervous system to be able to work correctly.
It’s also needed to help your body process the production of hormones, which impact your mood and energy. A lack of protein can make it harder to concentrate and can affect your mood to the point where you’ll get frustrated easier and feel irritable.
This can push you to overeat or make bad food choices. When your body has enough protein, it aids in the production of hormones that cause calmness and give you a better ability to cope with stress.
You’ll even get a good night’s sleep when you eat enough protein.
The right amount of protein consumption works within your body to get rid of insomnia and boost your ability to fall asleep naturally.
All of these benefits given to you by protein work to not only help you take off the extra weight but to maintain that loss for the long haul. The best formula for protein intake will depend on your goals and how you feel since everyone is unique in their nutritional reactions.
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Amounts Of Protein In Different Foods
So just by reading about protein, you may be motivated to get more in your diet. Now the question is what foods should you eat.
Let’s look at some foods with protein and their amounts.
Hamburger patty, 4 oz – 28 grams protein
Steak, 6 oz – 42 grams
Chicken breast, 3.5 oz – 30 grams protein
Chicken thigh – 10 grams (for average size)
Chicken meat, cooked, 4 oz – 35 grams
Most fish fillets or steaks are about 22 grams of protein for 3 ½ oz (100 grams) of cooked fish, or 6 grams per ounce
Tuna, 6 oz can – 40 grams of protein
Pork chop, average – 22 grams protein
Pork loin or tenderloin, 4 oz – 29 grams
Ham, 3 oz serving – 19 grams
Bacon, 1 slice – 3 grams
Eggs and Dairy
Egg, large – 6 grams protein
Milk, 1 cup – 8 grams
Cottage cheese, ½ cup – 15 grams
Yogurt, 1 cup – usually 8-12 grams, check the label
Medium cheeses (Cheddar, Swiss) – 7 or 8 grams per oz
Beans (I don’t recommend Soy)
Most beans (black, pinto, lentils, etc) – about 7-10 grams protein per half cup of cooked beans
Split peas, ½ cup cooked – 8 grams
Nuts and Seeds
Peanut butter, 2 Tablespoons – 8 grams protein
Almonds, ¼ cup – 8 grams
Peanuts, ¼ cup – 9 grams
Cashews, ¼ cup – 5 grams
Pecans, ¼ cup – 2.5 grams
Sunflower seeds, ¼ cup – 6 grams
Pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup – 8 grams
Flax seeds – ¼ cup – 8 grams
Protein Powders – 10 to 36 grams per serving depending on the type of protein.
So to get the minimum of 50 grams of protein a day you should be selecting some of the above foods in each meal.
What I Do To Get Enough Protein
Since I work out several times a week I typically try to get about 75 grams of protein a day. I’ve researched both sides of the protein issue and I decided not go too high but also be sure to get enough to build muscle.
Thankfully, my husband isn’t picky about food so he will eat whatever I cook. Usually, it’s some type of protein plus vegetables.
But, that’s for dinner. What about the rest of the day?
I know some people food prep and enjoy doing it. I know some of you actually like a chicken salad for lunch but I don’t very often.
I’ve found I get the most protein for my buck with the least effort with meal replacement shakes.
I used to mix up my own protein shakes but I got tired of figuring out what to add to them. So, when I found the Isagenix Meal Replacement Shakes I was thrilled.
Dave and I both drink a meal replacement shake to break our fast each day. Sometimes, depending on my mood I have 2 shakes.
2 other foods we eat a lot of in our house are eggs and oats.
Eggs have about 6 grams of protein each. A couple of eggs with veggies or cheese is a great lunch or snack idea.
Crazy as it sounds, we also eat oatmeal for lunch. It has about 1o grams of protein per cup. Add a scoop of protein or collagen to it and you’ve got a healthy bit of protein plus fiber.
Protein has been found in many studies to help you lose weight and stay leaner. As I said earlier there are differing opinions on how much protein you should take. I recommend you do more research for yourself if you are concerned.
I also recommend keeping track of how much protein you eat each day. After a few weeks, you will know if you should increase your amount or if you are doing fine.
If you decided to drink protein shakes be sure to check the quality. Protein supplements with fillers and artificial sweeteners will impede your weight loss and could be potentially damaging to your health.
If you start taking adequate protein and you still don’t lose the weight you want then you might consider lowering your carb intake. Again, that is another debatable subject.
I recommend cycling your carbs rather than taking them out of your diet.
Last but not least, consider Intermittent Fasting. Along with adequate protein intake, intermittent fasting is what I think keeps me the leanest with the least amount of effort.
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