Protein is one of the most important components of a good diet and we must consume a bit of it every day.
However, increasing the daily intake significantly can help optimise weight loss and improve your figure.
One of my friends has a partner that is in his late 60s. He is in exceptionally good shape. However, he’s also a very busy person who doesn’t really have time to go to a gym regularly.
I sat down with him a few years ago to discuss his diet because I was super interested.
He narrowed it down to one specific thing – a high protein diet with a minimal amount of carbs.
I conducted a little bit of research into this concept and there are many benefits of eating a high protein diet. I’ll be covering:-
- Benefits of a high protein diet
- The science behind a high protein diet for weight loss
- Foods with the highest amount of protein
- Best high protein diet recipes
- Side effects of a high protein diet
What’s a High Protein Diet?
In case you missed it while traversing the fitness world, a high protein diet is a diet that consists of more than 30% protein and limited fat or carbohydrate intake.
How Does Protein Help You Lose Weight?
Protein is made up of over 20 amino acids. Out of these 20, 9 amino acids are considered essential to the diet as the body cannot produce these amino acids.
These amino acids can be found in animal protein like meat, fish, and poultry and plant protein like beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
The research I came across suggests consuming higher amounts of protein keeps you fuller for longer, increases your body’s metabolic rate in addition to building muscle.
Additionally, when you reduce carb consumption, your body burns fat more effectively.
Benefits of a High Protein Diet
1. Building Muscle
This is one of the best benefits of a high protein diet. It helps the body build muscle faster when combined with resistance training.
Because we also lose muscle as we age, a high protein diet can help prevent this.
My friend’s partner has a washboard stomach. I’ve asked him to do an interview for the site. Hopefully, he says yes.
2. Boosts Metabolism
Protein boosts metabolic rate leading to faster calorie burn. Studies (see below) show increasing protein intake improves metabolism via thermogenesis.
3. Reduces Calorie Intake
High protein foods fill you up faster and keep you fuller longer thus reducing the need to snack in between or develop unhealthy cravings. This means fewer calories consumed, which makes it easier to lose weight.
Components of a High Protein Diet
So, now that you’ve seen the benefits of eating a high protein diet, how do you go about it effectively for the best results?
Opt for a good quality combination of plant and animal protein like soy protein – tofu and soy burgers – beans, nuts, fish, skinless poultry, lean beef, pork and low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt.
Avoid processed foods be it protein or carbs as much as possible. Good carbs include whole grains, vegetables, and fruit.
What Foods Are the Highest in Protein?
Based on this, below is a compilation of foods with a high protein content:-
- Animal protein – lean beef, chicken, pork, turkey,
- Beans – black, red, and lima
- Dairy products – milk, cottage cheese, and yogurt
- Fish – salmon and tuna
- Grains – amaranth and spelt
- Vegetables – broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, watercress, and asparagus
- Soy products – tofu and tempeh
- Seeds – hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds
- Nuts and nut butter – almonds and pistachios
- Whey protein
They can put together a special diet plan high in protein based on your preferences and nutrition goals.
I will create separate articles over the next few posts with a round-up of the best high protein breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and desserts for weight loss.
Are There Any Side Effects to a High Protein Diet?
There are no side effects provided this is practiced in moderation. High protein means a lot of protein. It doesn’t mean the only thing you consume is protein and an excessive amount at that.
It also doesn’t mean carbs are the devil or cutting out all other calorie sources.
Despite my friend’s high protein diet, the day we met, we shared a plate of fries and mini burgers between us and neither of us suddenly blew up because of it. Everything in moderation.
However, if you have any major health issues, you should speak to your primary care physician before you switch to a very specific diet.
Once you abandon a high protein diet, expect your body to return to the way it was previously unless you’re switching to some other effective weight loss diet and strategy.