Eat More Protein and Lose Weight
by Barbara Minton
all TBYIL articles by Barbara Minton
(The Best Years in Life) If
you're managing to eat 5-7 daily
servings of fruits and vegetables, give
yourself a pat on the back. But don't be
tempted to cut back on protein to make
room for all that produce. Recent
research has shown that getting a higher
percentage of calories from protein
helps people get slim and stay that way.
This is because protein forms the
structure and integrity of every part of
the body, and the body's signal to stop
eating is not sent until protein
requirements are fulfilled.
Eating plenty of protein promotes
weight loss and cardiovascular health
Researchers focused on various diets and
their outcomes on energy expenditure and
feelings of satisfaction while eating.
They considered the impact of diets on
weight loss, body composition,
cardiovascular risk, and blood sugar
They found that protein induced and
promoted energy expenditure and feelings
of fullness and satisfaction. Diets
higher in protein contributed to weight
loss and lowered body mass index,
lowered risk of cardiovascular disease,
and supported blood sugar stabilization.
When they reviewed results from
randomized controlled trials, these
scientists found that an abundance of
studies have shown the superior effects
on weight loss of diets high in protein
compared to lower protein diets.
They concluded that diets in which
protein is increased and high
carbohydrate foods are decreased help
control body weight and composition, as
well as several other associated
Protein is the primary nutrient that
According to the FDA, people need 50
grams of protein each day, based on a
2000 calorie diet. This is a diet that
provides 200 calories from protein, or
ten percent. This amount is seen as
providing the minimum to sustain body
structure and synthesis, but it ignores
the amount of protein needed to preserve
muscle during weight loss and exercise.
When high quality protein is increased
beyond this basic amount, it benefits
muscle function and health, as well as
facilitating weight loss through the
burning of calories.
Protein is the single most important
nutrient that influences metabolic rate
and helps weight loss. Protein also
gives a tremendous boost to overall
health, improving immunity and
antioxidant function, building HDL
("good") cholesterol, and enhancing
insulin function. Protein facilitates
the message to the body to feel
satisfied. And all of these functions
contribute to the body's ability to
reach and maintain its ideal weight.
"Protein is like 2x4s and plywood
showing up at your liver's jobsite,"
according to health expert Byron
Richards, who says protein kicks
metabolism into gear. He notes that a
higher protein breakfast can boost
metabolic rate as much as 30 percent for
as long as 12 hours.
Protein is critical for many bodily
Every cell in the body contains protein.
It is a major component of skin,
muscles, organs, and glands. Protein is
present in all body fluids with the
exception of bile and urine. Protein
helps keep you looking younger by
repairing cells and making new ones.
Without optimal levels of protein, the
body is unable to sustain and regenerate
itself. Protein is especially important
for growth and development during
childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy.
Many health experts including Richards
advocate that 30 percent of calories
need to come from high quality protein
to facilitate weight loss. Another 30
percent should come from carbohydrates,
and 40 percent from fat that includes a
significant amount of saturated fat.
This means that on a typical 2000
calorie diet, 600 of the calories would
come from protein.
Richards is a big fan of saturated fats
because they produce energy and feelings
of satisfaction, unlike the widely
promoted processed vegetable oils, which
produce inflammation and cancer by
deadening cellular energy.
This 30/30/40 ratio should be maintained
whether one's calorie needs are more or
less than 2000 calories, which is really
just an artificial standard. Anyone who
engages in frequent strenuous exercise
or has a large body frame will need a
higher calorie diet while maintaining
the 30 percent guideline for protein.
High quality protein is not
necessarily animal protein
Most Americans have been brought up to
believe that getting high quality
protein involves eating large amounts of
animal or dairy products. Yet there is a
downside to eating more than minimal
amounts of animal protein. Kidney
failure, osteoporosis, cancer, heart
disease, gout, and low energy are
potential negative effects that come
from eating a diet high in animal
The Mediterranean diet, which has been
shown to reduce mortality from all
causes and promote health and longevity,
features small amounts of yogurt and
cheese as the only animal protein eaten
on a daily basis. Small servings of fish
are eaten a few times a week. And land
animal flesh is consumed as infrequently
as once a month.
The traditional plant based diet
consumed by people living in poorer
countries supports their hard working
lifestyle and leaves them relatively
free from disease and obesity. The myth
that Americans must consume large
amounts of animal protein is the result
of pressure by the animal meat industry.
The reliance on animal protein places a
heavy burden on the body as well as on
the environment and resources needed to
produce such protein.
Animal protein sold in traditional
grocery stores and produced with
hormones, antibiotics, and unnatural
feed is unfit to eat because it is
Vegetable protein is high quality
Animal protein is not readily available
to be used as human protein, because it
must be broken down and reassembled
before it can be used by people.
Proteins are composed of amino acids,
twelve of which are made by the human
body. The other nine are called
essential amino acids and must be
obtained from food. Animal meat and many
dairy products contain all the essential
amino acids needed for reassembling into
human protein. Because they have all the
essential amino acids, they are referred
to as complete protein.
Some vegetable sources also contain
complete protein with all nine essential
amino acids, and these amino acids are
just as high quality as those from
animal sources. They are just as
effectively used by the human body.
Three superstars of complete vegetable
Each of these offers complete protein
and can stand alone as the main protein
source in any meal.
Foods that offer high levels of
incomplete protein include beans, peas,
nuts, seeds, and many grains. Beans,
lentils, and peas can be easily combined
with brown rice or corn to create a
delicious complete protein dish. Cheese
added to legume or other vegetable
dishes, or to grain dishes, creates a
complete protein. Other combos that
create complete protein include bean or
lentil soup combined with a side of
whole grain crackers, peanut or other
nut butter on whole grain bread, whole
grain pasta with peas or broccoli,
hummus on pita bread, and veggie burgers
on whole grain rolls.
If weight loss is your goal, go easy on
the choices that include high
carbohydrate foods that are rapidly
broken down in the body, like pasta,
potatoes and bread. Stick to the
complete protein superstars.
For more information:
Enjoy the many health benefits of
Barbara is a school psychologist and the author of Dividend Capture, a book on personal finance. She is a breast cancer survivor using bioidentical hormone therapy, and a passionate advocate of natural health with hundreds of articles on many aspects of health and wellness. She is the editor and publisher of AlignLife's Health Secrets Newsletter.
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