Do high-protein diets work for weight loss?


High-protein diets are all the rage when it comes to weight loss.  But do they really work in reducing excess  pounds?  We’ve heard this advice and have watched celebrities who’ve accomplished a loss in weight by using high-protein diet plan.  But, before you take the time, effort and extra money spent on following this weight loss plan, make sure you know the facts on this type of eating plan to make your weight loss attempt successful.

What is considered a high-protein diet?

There really is no set definition but usually a protein amount greater than 35 percent of total energy intake is considered high-protein.  The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend between 10 to 35 percent of your daily calories from protein for adults.

Why is extra protein beneficial for weight loss?

Following a high-protein does not involve eating endless amounts of protein foods such as sausage, high-fat meat, high-fat cheeses, and the like.  Rather, a high-protein meal plan includes plenty of lean protein sources, both plant and animal, providing several benefits making your endeavor achievable:

·      Protein provides satiety

One unique quality lean protein sources have is making you feel full.  When you include protein in your meals and snacks, you will feel satiety after eating.  Satiety is the feeling of fullness that lingers in the hours after a meal and which can inhibit you from eating until the next mealtime.  Thus, you end up eating less food resulting in fewer calories.

·      Protein is a muscle builder

To build and maintain muscle mass, protein is required.  When you have sufficient protein sources at each meal and snack, this helps provide amino acids, the building blocks of protein that help you build a strong body with adequate muscle mass.  Combine this way of eating along with weight training and you’ll attain more muscle mass.  The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn even when at rest, making it easier to lose the weight.

·      Extra protein helps burn more calories

When chewing and digesting protein foods, a few extra calories will be burned since it takes more effort for your body to do so.  This is called the thermic effect of food which means your rate of metabolism, or the rate at which you burn calories, is temporarily speeded up when eating food.

·      Protein replaces low-quality carbs

 A lot of what helps a high-protein diet work is that it has to do with replacing low-quality carbs such as refined sugary snacks that spike insulin and are stored as fat if they are not used for energy.  Since protein takes longer to digest, is more filling, and requires more energy to metabolize, it will aid in weight loss better.

·      Protein helps muscles after a workout

High-protein foods are perfect after a workout.  Protein helps your muscles repair, recover, and grow and muscle growth is exactly what you want.  The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn helping to spur on weight loss.

How to eat a high-protein diet for weight loss

There are several things to consider when making the decision to try following a high-protein meal plan for reaching a healthier weight.

First, it’s important to spread protein intake evenly throughout the day, so aim to have some with every meal and smaller amounts at a snack.  Aim to have between 25-30 grams of protein at breakfast, lunch, and dinner and about 10-15 grams at a snack. 

Second, eat high-quality protein food sources – eggs, chicken breast, lean meat, fish, also beans, legumes, dairy foods, nuts, and whole grains such as farro or quinoa.  Stay away from greasy, fried or high-fat meat sources. 

Possible risks of following a high-protein diet

Most people can generally follow a high-protein diet safely but it is worth noting that potential health risks do exist. 

When protein sources are high, your body will excrete calcium from the bones.  This means there is a possibility of loss of bone mass which could lead to the brittle bone disease of osteoporosis.

Another risk is making sure you are properly hydrated when consuming more protein. Protein molecules hold on to a lot of water making becoming dehydrated a threat.  Drink at least 64 ounces of water or more each day. 

If your protein intake is very high, ketosis is a real possibility.   Ketosis is a state in which ketones build up in your bloodstream and the body starts to break down stored fat as energy.  This may sound like a good thing but side effects from this include headache, bad breath, and nausea and being in a state of ketosis can be dangerous for people with kidney problems or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

Bottom line

Anyone wanting to lose weight wants to lose it quickly but the goal should always be to do it safely and to where you take it off for good. After all, no one wants to regain lost pounds again.  This is why making lifestyle changes that use a healthy eating plan and exercise are absolutely necessary to make it work.

Also, anyone who have an existing kidney problem or is pregnant or breastfeeding, should discuss with their doctor to make sure a high-protein diet is safe for them before going on it.