The diet industry is projected to be a 684.5 billion dollar industry by 2027, and there is no shortage of fad diet books, programs, detoxes, and teas promising fast fat loss results using dubious methods. But the truth is that fat loss should be a slow and steady process.
Protein is an essential macronutrient required for countless processes in the body. In addition, it serves as the primary component of our muscle tissue.
Increasing protein in our diets and building muscle can improve our health and help us to lose body fat while maintaining muscle mass.
Increasing your protein quality and quantity can make a huge difference in reaching your fat loss goals healthily and sustainably.
What does protein do?
Protein is one of three macronutrients that make up the food we eat and is present in every cell in our body. Protein helps boost our immune systems, keeps our neurotransmitters functioning, and supports the endless chemical reactions needed to keep our bodies working with small proteins called enzymes.
Protein also builds and maintains our lean muscle, which gives our bodies shape and powers our movements.
Therefore, increasing the amount of protein we eat and building muscle is one of the most impactful nutritional strategies to lose fat and get toned.
How does protein help with fat loss?
Increasing your protein consumption can help you lose fat in multiple ways.
Protein maintains muscle during calorie restriction
We know that to lose weight, we must burn more calories than we consume. Most diets restrict calories by cutting out whole food groups leading to fat, water, and muscle loss. Our muscle mass is our metabolism. The more muscle we have, the more calories we burn. Therefore, building and maintaining muscle during fat loss should be our top priority.
More muscle means a higher metabolism
Our lean muscle mass also dictates the number of calories we burn outside of formal exercise, called our Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). By being more muscular, we burn more calories when sleeping, walking, and resting.
Protein decreases hunger
Because of the complex nature of protein molecules, they take longer for our bodies to digest than things like carbohydrates alone. This means that when we eat protein, we remain satiated for longer, which is a beautiful thing when trying to reduce our total intake.
Protein requires more calories to break down
The thermic effect of food (TEF) is the energy it takes for our body to break down the food we eat and use it. Protein has the highest TEF of any food; therefore, we burn the most calories simply by consuming it.
4 Tips for sustainable fat loss
1. Prioritize protein
It is the star of the show, and it should be center stage at every meal and snack. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, you should eat at least .75 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day.
2. Fat loss is a marathon, not a sprint
Learning and applying healthy habits sustainably is a slow and non-linear process. Manifest a mindset of addition – focus on the healthy habits you are adding to your life, and be patient.
3. Eat slowly
Whether our goal is to lose weight, gain muscle, or simply improve our health, eating slowly is one of the top habits we can adopt. This allows us to savor and enjoy every bite of our meal and naturally reduces overeating without conscious restriction.
4. Don’t over-restrict
This may be the most challenging but essential concept to understand, especially for those who have yo-yo dieted for years. Remember, if you can’t stick with a change for a lifetime, it’s better not to start.
You must nourish your body and eat enough carbs, fats, proteins, nutrients, and fiber – especially when attempting to lose weight. Resist the temptation to eat well throughout the week and completely change your consumption on the weekends.
A sustainable healthy diet makes room for the joy and pleasure of food and connecting with others. And remember, one day of overeating will not undo your progress. So if you indulge, simply resume your regular habits as soon as possible – and skip the guilt.