Protein: Your Weight Loss Partner
One could say protein and the bodybuilding world are in somewhat of a serious relationship. Particularly in recent years, there has been a growing sentiment towards protein when it comes to strength training and building lean muscle mass. If you’re new to the fitness world, don’t let this relationship intimidate you. There’s enough protein to go around, and you, too become bffs with this powerful macronutrient.
What it is, sources, and suggested amounts were discussed (here), but let’s take it a step further now, and talk about the role protein plays in the bodybuilding relationship. The long chains of amino acids that comprise a protein molecule are involved in nearly every bodily function, including (but not limited to): the generation and maintenance of bones, skin, muscle tissue, cells, and enzymes. “Eating protein triggers protein synthesis and the building of muscle tissue, so it’s warranted that we think highly of it in the athletic world. And eating adequate amounts can improve body composition, eliminate hunger, and reduce body fat.”
How does protein contribute to weight loss? Let’s find out!
- Increases Lean Muscle Mass
Our body is constantly in a state that fluctuates between muscle breakdown and muscle gain. The state we’re in depends on the demands of our body and the availability of the amino acids needed to complete the functions our body requires. For example, higher activity levels require an increase in amino acids to repair and build muscle tissue. If amino acids aren’t available in times of need, we risk muscle breakdown rather than muscle gain.“Eating protein increases protein synthesis and suppresses protein breakdown for several hours so that you can end up with more lean muscle mass tissue.” To ensure our “amino pools” are full and have enough branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) available when the body needs them, we must ingest enough quality protein.
- Decreases Hunger
Protein has more satiating qualities compared to carbs and keeps you feeling fuller, longer. That’s why people on a high(er) protein diet tend to eat fewer calories. However, just because you’re becoming closer to your protein pal and more satisfied after a meal doesn’t mean you should neglect whole foods that are also vital to your health, like veggies.
Be mindful of maintaining a balanced diet when increasing or consuming higher protein. High-quality protein (with high ratios of BCAA’s) in the form of animal protein create an acidic environment internally. Balancing your other macronutrients with healthy options high in antioxidants is crucial to counter the oxidative stress incurred from more protein in your diet. More veggies = more fiber, which will help keep you full, too!
- Increases Fat-Loss
Increased protein intake not only decreases your hunger but also requires almost two times the amount of energy from your body to break it down compared to carbs. This is called the Thermic Effect, meaning, your body burns more calories digesting protein than it does when it absorbs carbs.
Another thermogenic effect protein has on your body is your metabolic rate. It takes more energy (caloric expenditure) for your body to maintain lean muscle mass compared to fat. Protein is essential in preserving muscle, so a diet composed of more high-quality protein will allow your body naturally expend more energy to maintain that muscle, even at rest!
Increasing muscle, feeling fuller, and burning more calories just by eating protein?! If that doesn’t sound like a Win: Win relationship, I don’t know what is. 😉
Have you tried adjusting your protein intake to reap these benefits of weight loss? What worked for you? What didn’t work?
-Health & Wellness Coach