How protein can help you lose weight

Protein is something most of us know we need to eat to contribute towards a healthy diet and lifestyle. It’s a macronutrient that helps our bodies grow and recover, as well as a number of other amazing things.

However, it can also help us lose weight. Obviously just eating more protein isn’t going to help you lose, and so need to be done as part of a healthy lifestyle, but there are several ways that eating more protein may help us shed a few more pounds.

The body burns more calories when digesting protein

Our bodies use energy to digest the food that we eat. This energy burns calories through a process known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). However, not all foods have the same TEF. Protein has a much higher TEF (20-30%) compared to carbs (5-10%) and fats (0-3%). This means that when you consume protein, 20-30% of its calories are burned off during digestion.

Protein boosts your metabolism

Your metabolism (or metabolic rate to be more precise) dictates how fast you burn calories. By consuming more protein you can help to increase your metabolism and burn off more calories throughout the day – even when resting and when you’re asleep!

Having a high protein diet can help you burn up to 80-100 extra calories per day.

Protein affects hunger hormones

The sensations of feeling hungry or full are determined by particular hormones in our body, and protein can actually have an effect on them.

When we eat more protein, our body produces more of a number of hormones – GLP-1, peptide YY and cholecystokinin – that makes us feel full. Obviously this will reduce the chances you’ll want to eat more and consume more calories.

Similarly, protein can also reduce the production of a hormone called ghrelin, which makes you feel hungry. Again, the less hungry you feel, the less likely you are to eat.

Protein can reduce cravings

We’ve all experienced those pesky cravings that make us want to snack, usually on something unhealthy. Well, a couple of studies suggest that eating protein can help reduce those cravings.

In one study, a high protein diet was compared with a normal protein diet in overweight men. It found that when protein made up 25% of all calories, cravings were reduced by 60% and the urge for late night snacking was cut in half.

Another study showed that cravings in teenage girls were significantly reduced when they ate a high protein breakfast.

Protein can help prevent muscle loss

While weight loss is a good thing for most people because it reduces the amount of fat, it can also reduce the amount of muscle.

As muscle has a higher metabolic rate than fat, this can result in a reduction in how fast you burn calories. The means you may end up burning fewer calories each day, even if you’re eating well and doing exercise.

However, having a high protein diet has been shown to reduce muscle loss and the slowdown of metabolic rate when losing weight.