It’s likely you’ve heard or seen protein being marketed. Protein is everywhere, from bars, to pasta and chips. Is a high protein diet a fad or nah?
Protein is not just a fad. Its gaining interest for anyone exercising or seeking weight loss. Whether your fitness goals are to gain muscle mass or lose weight, consuming a high protein diet is important!
Protein keeps you full
During weight loss, our bodies utilize both fat and muscle stores for energy. Eating adequate protein is crucial to reduce loss of muscle during this time. Protein foods are more satiating compared to isoenergetic consumption of carbohydrates or fats. Meaning, eating more protein and less carbs and fat will help you stay full and reduce overall calorie intake.
Eating food also results in energy expenditure known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). TEF is the amount of calories needed by your body to digest, absorb and process the nutrients. Protein is known to have the greatest effect on TEF compared to carbs and fats. Basically, you burn more calories eating protein than carbs or fat.
Because of these effect, studies show high protein diets may increase total weight loss and increase the percentage of fat loss.
Increasing muscle mass can also accelerate weight loss by the burning more energy at rest. Muscle mass combined with a healthy diet will increase your metabolism and burn fat at a faster rate.
You have to tear and repair your muscles to increase muscle mass. During strength or power regiments, muscle fibers are essentially breaking down. This creates microscopic tears within the fibers; the repair of any cell or fiber requires protein for synthesis. The growth and repair of muscle fibers then results in muscle growth.
Both the amount and timing of protein intake is important post-exercise to increase protein synthesis. Aim for 1.5 – 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram per day to maintain a positive protein balance. For maximum protein synthesis, consume consume 0.5 grams protein per kilogram within 30 minutes after exercise, plus carbohydrate within 2 hours after exercise. Someone who weighs 180 lb (81 kg) would require between 121 – 162 grams of protein per day and around 40 g protein immediately after exercise.
A high protein diet is important for weight loss and increasing muscle mass. A high protein diet reduces overall calorie intake and aid in weight loss. Adequate protein in combination with strength training is essential for increasing muscle mass.