4 Benefits of Protein for Weight Loss

protein for weight loss

The notion of using protein for weight loss might sound like a simplistic solution—consume protein-rich foods and watch the pounds melt away. However, the reality is more nuanced. While protein alone won’t magically shed excess weight, scientific evidence supports its role in facilitating weight loss and maintaining a healthy body composition. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the four key benefits of incorporating protein into your weight loss journey.

Why Using Protein for Weight Loss Is a Good Idea

Protein’s significance in weight management extends beyond mere calorie counting. Research consistently demonstrates that higher protein intake correlates with reduced body weight, decreased fat mass, preservation of fat-free mass (such as muscle), and reduced belly fat. Moreover, protein doesn’t merely aid in shedding pounds; it also plays a crucial role in weight maintenance post-weight loss. However, it’s essential to understand that effective weight loss strategies involve more than just boosting protein intake.

How Much Protein Do I Need?

Determining the appropriate amount of protein for weight loss isn’t a one-size-fits-all equation. While the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommend daily protein intake of 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men, these values serve as the minimum requirement to prevent muscle loss, not necessarily for weight loss purposes. For effective weight loss, higher protein consumption is often necessary.

Experts suggest that a high-protein diet should constitute approximately 30% of your daily caloric intake. For instance, if you consume 2,000 calories daily, around 600 should come from protein sources. Moreover, aiming for 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight daily is commonly advised. However, recent studies propose even higher protein intake levels, ranging from 1.2 to 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight, particularly during energy restriction periods for weight loss. Furthermore, distributing protein intake evenly throughout the day, with at least 25 to 30 grams per meal, may enhance appetite control and metabolic health.

5 Benefits of Protein for Weight Loss

  1. It Helps You Feel Full

A high-protein diet increases your levels of the hormones glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), cholecystokinin (CCK), and peptide tyrosine-tyrosine (PYY). These hormones reduce your appetite. At the same time, a high-protein diet decreases hormone ghrelin levels, which is known for increasing appetite. This combo means you’ll feel fuller. Loading up on protein can stop you from overeating, leading to eating less food and losing weight.

  1. Digesting Protein Burns More Calories

A high-protein diet also helps you burn more calories. That’s because protein has a higher diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT) than carbohydrates and fats. This means your body burns more energy-digesting protein than carbs and fats. It’s not a small amount, either. DIT is 20 to 30 percent for protein, five to 10 percent for carbs, and zero to three percent for fats. So, if we take those upper limits, your body could burn three times as many calories metabolizing and storing protein than it does when you eat carbs — and 10 times more than fats.

  1. Adding Protein Can Reduce Cravings

Cravings are the enemy of anyone trying to lose weight, and protein may be your secret weapon to stop them. One study looked at teenage girls with overweight BMIs (body mass indexes) and obesity who usually skipped breakfast. For six days, they ate either a high-protein breakfast, a normal-protein breakfast, or no breakfast at all. At the end of the experiment, the results showed that eating breakfast — any breakfast — reduced post-meal food cravings for sweet and savory foods. However, the high-protein breakfast led to a more significant reduction in savory food cravings than normal.

  1. Protein Promotes Fat-Free Mass

Fat-free mass, which includes muscle, burns more calories at rest than fat mass. And protein helps you retain fat-free mass even as you lose weight. Increased protein intake can help you maintain muscle when eating in a calorie deficit. It also comes with other health benefits, like limiting age-related muscle loss. When coupled with resistance training, eating lots of protein can boost strength and muscle mass gains. So, high protein intake can help you build more muscle beyond keeping the muscle you already have. And more muscle is good news when it comes to losing weight.

Get Personalized Weight-Loss Guidance from the Experts

Consulting with a registered dietitian or healthcare provider is invaluable for personalized weight-loss recommendations tailored to your individual needs and goals. At Pause Pain & Wellness, we offer comprehensive support and tailored treatment plans to assist you on your weight loss journey. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and explore personalized strategies for achieving your weight loss goals.