When you’re trying to lose weight, most people cut out carbs and drastically cut back calories. Doing this typically makes you even hungrier, which then leads to you falling off the wagon and giving up on your weight loss goals.
Higher protein intake = fuller for longer
Protein takes longer to digest than carbs which helps keep you fuller for longer.
One study found that participants ate over 440 fewer calories per day when they increased protein to 30 percent of calorie intake (1).
Protein’s thermic effect of food, measurement of how food is metabolized, is higher than carbs and fats. This is important because it means that fewer calories are turned into fat.
Protein also helps you maintain, and grow, your muscle mass even when your in a caloric deficit. When you maintain and/or grow your muscle mass, you burn more calories – even at rest!
How much protein should you consume daily?
When speaking about weight loss, a paper from 2015 analyzed multiple studies and found the optimal amount to be between 1.2 and 1.6 grams per kilogram. This range improved appetite, metabolic risk, and other health factors, and weight management (2). For someone who weighs 180 pounds (82 kg), this amounts to 98.4 to 131.2 grams of protein per day.
Using your palm to measure protein.
Building your meals using nutrient-dense foods using your hand for portion control is one of the easiest ways to make sure you’re getting enough macronutrients, like protein, without having to weigh and measure your foods.
The palm of your hand determines your protein amount. (about 20-30 G protein)
This works so well because hands are scaled to each individual. If you are a bigger person, you will have bigger hands which means you need more food. Smaller people need less food and have smaller hands.
A great starting point for most active women is: 1 palm of protein-dense foods per meal. (men you should do 2 palms)
You can easily adjust this as you go along. Adjust your portions based on your hunger, fullness, preferences, goals and overall activity level.
The Best Proteins
Healthy protein options are the best for your overall health. Just simply adding in dairy and meat might not be the best option for your health. A healthy, balanced diet that’s high in protein should include the following protein foods:
Pea protein is trending right now, as a powder supplement and in fake meat products. Just one cup of cooked peas provides 8.5 grams of protein and about 120 calories. They also provide a significant amount of vitamin C and plenty of fiber to keep you feeling full longer.
Peas are a legume, a type of plant, and all varieties of legumes are high in protein compared to other plants. In addition to peas, add all types of beans, lentils, and peanuts or peanut butter to your diet. Dried lentils and beans are especially cost-effective, and when combined with whole grains provide a complete protein. They are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Halibut or Cod
Salmon is often the go-to fish for a high-protein meal, but try halibut or cod if weight loss is the goal. Three ounces of halibut is only 77 calories and has 16 grams of protein (cod is 70 calories and 15 grams), as compared to 120 calories and 17 grams for salmon.
Chicken is hard to beat as an inexpensive source of lean protein. A three-ounce chicken breast provides 26 grams of protein for just 142 calories and three grams of fat.
For a whole host of nutrients and a low-cost protein, eat more eggs. For about 85 calories, you get 7 grams of protein, iron, antioxidants, and choline.
When vegetables, beans, and fish just don’t satisfy your craving, choose grass-fed beef. Four ounces contains just 130 calories and 26 grams of protein. Grass-fed beef has significantly less fat and fewer calories than conventional beef.
Whole foods should be the base of a healthy diet, but when trying to eat more protein, powders can be useful. A morning shake made with a healthy powder as well as whole foods like fruits and nut butters helps supplement protein in one easy meal. These are some good options:
- Pea protein. For vegans, pea protein powder is an excellent choice. It provides complete protein (all the essential amino acids found in animal products) and is absorbed slowly, keeping you full longer.
- Whey or casein protein. These two types of protein are milk-based and are complete proteins. Casein is absorbed more slowly. Both promote increased multiple mass. (FNX Peanut Butter Cup protein is my fave! Use code: carriefit for 20% off)
- Soy protein. Soy is another plant-based protein that is complete, with all the essential amino acids. It also contains beneficial antioxidants known as soy isoflavones. (3)
So, if you’re looking to lose weight…up your protein intake! Reach out to me if you have questions or need help with this.
Stay Healthy my Friends!
Carrie A Groff
1. Weigle, D.S., Breen, P.A., Matthys, C.C., Callahan, H.S., Meeuws, K.E., Burden, V.R., and Purnell, J.Q. (2005, July). A High-Protein Diet Induces Sustained Reductions in Appetite, ad libitum Calorie Intake, and Body Weight Despite Compensatory Changes in Diurnal Plasma Leptin and Ghrelin Concentrations. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 82(1), 41-8. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16002798/
2. Leidy, H.J., Clifton, P.M., Astrup, A., Wycherley, T.P., Westerterp-Plantenga, M.S., Luscombe-Marsh, N.D., Woods, S.C., and Mattes, R.D. (2015, June). The Role of Protein in Weight Loss and Maintenance. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 101(6), 1320S-1329-S. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25926512/