All nutrients are important in our diet, but protein is essential as building blocks of protein are amino acids that are especially important because these are the building block of our muscles and cells as well.
One of the most popular strategies for weight loss is a high protein diet. The assumption is that high protein diet aids in weight loss because due to reduction in carbohydrate intake ketosis is induced and appetite is suppressed. Fewer intake of calories automatically causes weight loss. Proteins also induce thermogenesis that helps a person burning more calories and losing more weight.
So now we know that high protein diet helps in weight loss but what is a high protein diet? What we eat in a high protein diet?
What is a high protein diet?
A woman requires 50g of proteins a day while a man needs 60g of proteins a day but in a high protein diet a person consumes extra protein than per day requirement.
According to 2015 -2020 Dietary Guidelines, the intake of calories from protein can range between 10-35 percent. A diet will be considered high protein if the calories coming from protein are higher than 16 percent.
Weight based daily recommendation of protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. Popular high protein diets promotes 28 percent to 64 percent energy intake from proteins and carbohydrates are restrictive to 3 percent to 16 percent for energy intake. The rest coming from fats.
And on the basis of daily calorie consumption an active adult should consume 10 percent of his daily calories requirement from proteins. But while following a high protein diet you should consume twice of these recommendations.
In a high protein diet you have to consume foods rich in protein like chicken, lean beef, eggs, low fat yogurt, milk, grains, lentils, cheese and beans and some fruits and vegetables. What exactly you eat on a high protein diet is
- Whole grains
- Lean proteins as lean meat, soy, eggs, beans, low fat dairy, nuts and seeds
- Low glycemic fruits as blue berries, strawberries and raspberries
- Vegetables like mushrooms, peppers and leafy green vegetables
You strictly avoid
- Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta and white rice
- Sugars and sweetened beverages
- Saturated fats and fast foods
Meat is essential part of high protein diet for non-vegetarians but if you want your protein diet to work then you have to be careful.
- Avoid having fatty meats
- Go with lean cut of beef with more protein and less unhealthy fat
- Remove skin of white meat having saturated fat
- Go for fish like salmon and tuna
- Eat more eggs as they are best source of lean proteins
- Eat more grains, beans and lentils
- Go for low fat dairy as a calcium source
- Never forget to have fruits and vegetables
- Make whole grains your choice as well
High protein diet is popular for weight loss because it helps in reducing weight and is based on science. There are number of diet plans to achieve this goal but high protein diet is healthier and safer than some of the other unhealthy diets.
High protein diet and weight loss
Protein diet is very helpful in losing weight because a high consumption of protein keeps a person satiated for a long time and he/she does not feel hungry after very short time and consumes fewer calories which automatically helps in weight loss. Protein also speeds up body’s metabolism that helps in burning of calories faster and results in weight loss.
One study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a direct link between reduced appetite, increased protein in diet and reduced calorie intake which resulted in significant weight loss.
Protein suppresses the production of hunger hormones and produce hormones PYY and GLP1 that makes a person feel full and satiated. In this way by consuming more protein a person does not feel much appetite and eats less food that helps in weight loss. Protein makes you feel full for hours and reduces your calorie intake and controls your appetite.
Reduces body fat and builds lean muscle
Higher protein intake results in lowering body fat and gaining overall muscle. Eating more protein helps you build lean muscles that automatically make your body look toned and slim. Protein intake preserves lean body mass with caloric restriction.
Another study found that consuming a high protein diet (higher than 2 grams/kg weight daily) improves body composition by decreasing fat mass and body fat percentage.
Boosts body’s metabolism
Protein intake really speeds up body’s metabolism and helps in burning more calories and aids in weight loss. Even simply eating lean proteins can boost metabolism of your body. As protein makes you feel full for longer time, so it also requires a greater number of calories to burn them that speeds up metabolic rate of the body.
With every increase of 10 percent of calories from protein, the thermic effect increases about 29kJ per 4184kJ of eaten food.
The same study also found that those who consume a high protein diet with 29 percent calories coming from protein, were having a 891 kJ per day higher metabolic rate than those who consumed only 10 percent of their calories from protein.
High protein diet causes ketosis
In a high protein diet, carbohydrates are highly restricted. As we know carbohydrates are main source of energy. When body does not get enough carbohydrates, it breaks fat into ketones and they become primary source of energy for body. Your body goes into state of ketosis where body burns fat and produces ketones as primary source of energy for body. Burning of fat causes weight loss.
Thermic effect of food
A high protein diet works effectively for losing weight. When you take more protein in your diet your body must burn extra calories because you have to work harder to chew and digest the food. It is called as thermic effect of food by scientists. By consuming more protein your body burns calories even on rest.
You can follow different kinds of high protein diets. There are several high protein diets that are high in proteins and low in carbohydrates that are very popular for weight loss. Some famous high protein diets are
- Atkins diet
- Stillman diet
- Zone diet
- Montignac diet
- Dukan diet
- Protein power
What are the choices for a vegetarian while following a high protein diet as we know meat is an important source of protein? Vegetarians should not be worried because there are amazing alternatives for them while following a high protein diet.
Vegetarian high protein diet
Plants and animals are two main sources of proteins but a vegetarian cannot rely on animal sources. Vegetarians stay away from fish, poultry and meat that are very important sources of proteins but it does not mean that they cannot follow a high protein diet. There are wonderful high protein food choices for them
Eggs are wonderful source of proteins. They are nutrient filled proteins and have choline a nutrient that helps in fat burning. They keep hunger in control and aids in weight loss.
- Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt helps in losing weight and building muscle. It is a great choice for having it as a snack with your favorite fruits.
For vegetarians nuts are top sources of proteins. you get 5 grams of protein in every ounce of proteins.
- Beans and legumes
Beans are actually super food and very rich in proteins. Blood cholesterol is major cause of heart diseases these days and consuming beans and legumes improves blood cholesterol.
Quinoa is higher in protein than all other grains. It is perfect for vegetarians as its one cup gives you eight grams of protein and it is very healthy because it is gluten free and low in fat.
- Chia seeds
Chia seeds are great because they contain all nine essential amino acids. They are good source as satiating protein and can help you lose inches.
Other sources of proteins for vegetarians are
- Chickpea pasta
- Peanut butter
- Soya beans and soy products
- Hemp Seed
Fruits and vegetables are also very important when we are following a high protein diet. When it comes to fruits we usually avoid them because of their higher sugar content but let’s have a look on fruits that are rich in proteins and we can have them while following a high protein diet.
Protein rich fruits
There are fruits that are rich in proteins, and we can easily consume them while following a high protein diet. Some fruits are very rich in sugars and their too much consumption is not good but there are fruits you can easily eat without being worried about their sugar levels.
Cherries are power packed with proteins and they have high antioxidant content.
Figs are highly rich in proteins. They are available both as dried and fresh. Dried figs provide more proteins per gram.
Blackberries are very healthy and an excellent source of proteins. They have 2 grams of protein per cup.
Guava provides appropriate amount of proteins and lots of essential nutrients to the body. It contains 4.2 grams of protein per cup.
Grapefruit is amazing for weight loss and considered to be high in proteins.
Avocados are amongst high protein source of proteins. They are rich in healthy saturated fats and are healthy as well.
Other fruits you can consume as high sources of proteins are
A high protein diet is an effective strategy for weight loss. However, if you do not remain in moderation and start consuming protein for more than 35 percent of your daily calorie needs, it will have some side effects as well.
A high protein diet can cause nutritional deficiencies because you will be avoiding carbs and fats. Proteins are also hard on the kidneys, therefore, eating too much protein stresses kidneys. And eating too much meat has also been linked with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
But as long as you remain in moderation and do not overdo on a high protein diet, you are very likely to lose weight and gain muscle mass.