Decades of scientific research on nutrition and weight loss has uncovered a few key pieces of information on what helps people successfully win the battle of the bulge.
This article is going to cut through a lot of the noise surrounding protein and tell you how much protein you should be eating to lose weight and some of the things you should consider when planning your diet.
In this article:
Protein is an important macronutrient that is involved in nearly all bodily functions and processes. It plays a key role in exercise recovery and is an essential dietary nutrient for healthy living. The elements carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen combine to form amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Protein and amino acids are primarily use to create bodily tissues, form enzymes and cellular transporters, maintain fluid balance, and more.
If you want to lose weight, aim for a daily protein intake between 1.6 and 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram (.73 and 1 grams per pound). Athletes and heavy exercisers should consume 2.2-3.4 grams of protein per kilogram (1-1.5 grams per pound) if aiming for weight loss.
Dietary protein can be an important part of a diet that is intended for weight loss.
While there are many benefits to dietary protein, there are four main areas that have direct effects on weight loss:
Let us take a deeper dive into each of these topics.
One of the biggest things that impedes weight loss is hunger.
People are far less likely to stick with a nutrition or diet plan if they experience high levels of hunger.
Protein is the most satiating of all the macronutrients (1)
Several different lines of research have all pointed to the same thing: higher protein intakes tend to provide more satiety and less hunger.
For example, in one study, high protein snacks allowed people to go longer between eating and also caused them to eat less at subsequent meals (2).
Another study showed that including protein into a glass of water decreased hunger compared to water alone (3).
Depending on the source of protein, there does appear to be minor differences in the exact amount of satiety that protein provides, however these differences are minor and don’t really make a meaningful impact for most people (4).
Currently, there is no consensus on the optimal level of daily protein intake in one’s diet with regard to stay full. However, roughly 1.8 – 2.9 grams of protein per kilogram daily (or .82-1.32 grams of protein per pound) appears to provide substantial benefit on satiety (5).
In addition, protein has another benefit on weight loss: it helps preserve lean body mass during periods of caloric restriction.
One study compared the effect of low protein intake (1.0 grams per kilogram per day) to high protein intake (2.3 g/kg per day) on lean body mass over a short term caloric deficit. On average, the low protein group lost about 1.6 kilograms (3.5 pounds) of muscle mass while the high protein group only lost 0.3 kg (0.66 pounds) of muscle mass (6).
Another similar study compared 0.8 g/kg per day against 1.6 g/kg per day and 2.4 g/kg per day and found that the two higher intakes (1.6 and 2.4 g/kg per day) spared more lean body mass than the 0.8 g/kg per day diet. They also found that there was no real benefit to 2.4 g/kg per day over 1.6 g/kg per day (7).
Currently, most evidence suggests that ~1.6 grams of protein per kilogram, or .73 grams of protein per pound is a recommended daily target for protein intake to spare lean body mass loss during periods of weight loss.
The thermic effect of food is the “cost” of digesting your food.
Essentially, it takes some energy to break food down, digest it, and turn it into energy. Protein has the highest “cost” of all the three macronutrients.
While the total effect that the thermic effect of food has on daily energy expenditure and weight loss is small, it is not meaningless and is important to note.
In one study, a high protein diet increased the thermic effect of food by roughly 6-8 kcals per hour when compared to a low protein diet, which may translate to ~50-75 calories per day (8).
However, not all studies show this large of an effect, and the thermic effect of protein is not likely responsible for most of its benefit, but it may be the “cherry on top” of adequate dietary protein during weight loss.
During periods of weight loss, there are often times where more energy is consumed than expended. As such, minimizing how much of that excess energy (i.e. calories) is stored as fat is important.
The body processes the three different macronutrients (i.e. proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) in very different ways.
Leaving out a lot of jargon and mumbo jumbo, in order for protein to be stored as fat, it goes through a much different biochemical process than either carbohydrates or protein.
This process makes it much harder for protein to store as body fat.
One study found that protein is stored as body fat with roughly 66% efficiency, while carbohydrates store with 80% efficiency and fats store at 96% efficiency (9).
During weight loss, overeating protein results in much less stored body fat than overeating on carbohydrates or fat.
Nutritional Guidelines suggest a daily intake of 1.6 and 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram, or .73 and 1 grams per pound to lose weight. Athletes and heavy exercisers should consume 2.2-3.4 grams of protein per kilogram (1-1.5 grams per pound) if aiming for weight loss.
While many different diets can be successful for weight loss, the protein content of a diet is one of the important factors to consider when planning a diet. Protein has been shown to promote satiety, help maintain lean body mass, increase the thermic effect of food slightly, and can reduce how efficient the body is at storing extra calories as body fat.
If you’re interested in learning more about protein, watch the webinar “Protein Metabolism: How to Optimize Protein intake for Muscle Gain and Weight Loss” below and consider becoming a Certified Nutrition Coach. Find out more about the NASM Nutrition Certification here.
This article was written by BRAD DIETER Click here for original article
The ‘fat burning zone’ is a theory that you should maintain your heart rate at just 70 – 80% of your maximum heart rate during exercise to burn more fat.
If you’re looking to lose weight and keep fit, the general rule of the game is to increase the intensity of your workouts. But what about the ‘fat burning zone’ theory that says you should exercise at lower intensities instead? What is the idea behind this concept, and is it true?
Your body requires glucose as fuel for your muscles. The 2 main sources of fuel are glycogen (a substance that stores carbohydrate) and fat, which breaks down to form glucose and ultimately carbon dioxide and water. Oxygen is required to oxidise (break down) either the glycogen or fat stores into glucose to fuel the muscles.
During a workout, your body requires more energy. Thus, your heart pumps faster and harder to send oxygen to your muscle cells to break down more glycogen and fat to fuel your muscles.
While 1 gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories of energy, 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories. This makes glycogen (carbohydrate) a less dense form of energy storage that is readily broken down into glucose, as compared to fats. As such, glycogen is your body’s first source of energy during exercise. Since high-intensity workouts require more energy quickly, you tap on glycogen rather than fat in your body for fuel. Your body only taps onto the next fuel, fat, when you start to run out of glycogen.
The fat burning zone theory seeks to help adherents lose weight by tapping on the body’s fat storage rather than glycogen. They argue that the body burns a greater percentage of fat with lower-intensity exercises than at higher intensities because the body does not require ‘fast energy’ from glycogen. As such, this theory promotes longer and lower-intensity cardio workouts that maintain your heart rate within the ‘fat burning zone’.
However, that is a bit of a misconception. While it is true that the body burns fat during low-intensity workouts, the fat burning rate remains low and you have to exercise longer to burn the same amount of calories you would at higher intensities.
In a high-intensity workout, although your body uses your glycogen stores first for ‘fast energy’, it depletes the glycogen stores rapidly enough to force your body to tap on the fat storage. This means that high-intensity workouts are more efficient in burning way more total calories – both glycogen and fat calories. Ultimately, the total number of calories you burn leads to the most weight (and fat) loss.
Working out with a heart rate monitor helps you to gauge the specific zones in which your body is working and how your body benefits from different intensities of exercise. Each of the 4 main training zones can be predicted by your heart rate:
Your warm-up zone is where you prepare your cardio-respiratory system, muscles and joints to exercise harder. Here, you are functioning at 60 – 70% of your maximum heart rate. It is a comfortable pace where you feel as though you can go on for a long time.
Just beyond the warm-up zone is the so-called fat burning zone where you are working out at about 70 – 80% of your maximum heart rate. It is still a comfortable rate but you might sweat more and breathe harder than usual. Although you may burn more fat than glycogen at this zone, the absolute amount of fat burnt is much less than the subsequent stages.
Still in the comfortable zone is the aerobic zone. Your heart rate is at 81 – 93% of your maximum heart rate. You will be able to talk but only in short phrases. The calories you burn here split evenly between your fat stores and glycogen. Although you will not burn more fat calories than glycogen, you will be burning more calories overall. (Plus, the aerobic zone makes your heart pump hard, which is great to keep your heart healthy!)
Finally, you will be at 94 – 100% of your maximum heart rate in the anaerobic territory. You are panting and unable to talk. It is hard work and nearly impossible to spend more than a minute here as your glycogen stores are depleted faster than they can be replenished. Anaerobic intervals widen your fat and aerobic zones and zap tons of calories. This is where the afterburn (temporary increase in metabolism) kicks in. Also known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), your body continues to burn more calories even after a high-intensity workout, as compared to a low-intensity exercise.
A high-intensity workout reaps many benefits of burning total calories efficiently both during and after exercising, and keeping your heart healthy. But if you prefer a low-intensity workout, it would require you to devote a longer amount of time to burn the same amount of calories!
Article reviewed by Dr Ong Hean Yee, cardiologist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital
The Truth About Heart Rate and Exercise. (n.d.). Retrieved August 06, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/the-truth-about-heart-rate-and-exercise#1
Waehner, P. (2017, March 30). The Real Truth About Your Fat Burning Zone – Get Out of It for Weight Loss. Retrieved August 06, 2017, from https://www.verywell.com/the-truth-about-the-fat-burning-zone-1231545
Quinn, E. (2016, July 5). The Truth About “The Fat Burning Zone”. Retrieved August 06, 2017, from https://www.verywell.com/the-fat-burning-zone-3119977
Waehner, P. (2017, May 18). 3 Ways to Burn More Fat With Exercise. Retrieved August 06, 2017, from https://www.verywell.com/body-into-fat-burning-machine-1231548
Paul Rogers | Reviewed by a board-certified physician. (2017, February 2). How to Burn More Fat When You Exercise. Retrieved August 06, 2017, from https://www.verywell.com/how-to-burn-more-fat-secrets-of-exercise-physiology-3498340