(Part 1 of 2)
Keto, Atkins, Paleo, Whole 30, high protein, low carbs... What does it all mean and what does it have to do with weight loss?
Let's explore Protein and its power in weight loss and good health.
MACRO vs MICRO Nutrients
Macro- and MicroNutrients are categories of food. Macro means 'big' and includes larger nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates and fat. Micro, meaning 'small', includes the smaller nutrients of vitamins and minerals. Macronutrients provide us with energy, while micronutrients perform functions in our bodies to help keep us healthy, including digestion. It's important to track both macro- and micronutrients to ensure we are getting proper nutrition for good health, especially when dieting.
Proteins, a macronutrient we hear a lot about these days, is vital to good health, proper functioning of the body and weight loss.
Proteins are broken down into amino acids, which are essential to a variety of bodily functions. Our bodies use 20 different amino acids. Your body can create only 11 of them; the other nine we get from our diet and are called essential amino acids.
High quality protein sources include meat, eggs (“the perfect balance” of amino acids), dairy, fish, soybeans and quinoa (keen-wa). They are calledwhole or complete proteins. Other proteins sources such as nuts, seeds, and beans only contain some essential amino acids. However, these plant- based proteins can be combined, such as beans and rice, to create a complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids.
When you digest protein, your body breaks it down into the individual amino acids, which are transported through your digestive system and ultimately absorbed into your blood stream, where it is carried throughout your body. Different amino acids perform different functions. They are then used to build enzymes (which facilitate the many and varied chemical reaction in cell membranes), hormones, and immune factors. Amino acids are also used to transport nutrients and other necessary molecules through our blood stream and across cell membranes. They carry signals from one part of your body to another. Your body also uses amino acids from protein for all kinds of other useful things that you are likely more aware of, including building and repairing muscle, bones, hair, and nails.
Any protein beyond what your body can use for these functions can then be metabolized into glucose and used for energy. **Whenever you have more food energy than you need, the surplus is stored as fat.**
How Protein Helps In Weight-loss
The bonds in the molecules of protein are harder to break than those in carbohydrates, which means that the body has to work harder to break down protein molecules. This is how proteins boost your metablolism (the rate at which you burn calories). Proteins also take longer to digest than carbohydrates, which means that calories from proteins tend to keep you full longer than calories from carbohydrates. And lastly, protein doesn’t cause sharp spikes in blood sugar, which reduces your risk of diabetes.
How Much Protein?
The recommended dietary allowance to prevent deficiency for a sedentary person is 0.8g protein per kg of body weight, or .36g protein per pound, usually between 50-60g protein/day generally speaking. But this varies with multiple factors including age of person, lifestyle (sedentary vs active), etc.
Beginning around the age of 40 to 50 years, we start to lose muscle mass. This is called "sarcopenia". To maintain strength and function as we age, protein intake should increase by about 1g per kilogram of bodyweight.
How Much Protein Can Your Body Absorb at One Time?
Research shows that we see no more benefit from higher intake (consuming more than 40g) of protein than when we consume the recommended 15-25g. Additionally, consuming higher intakes of protein can tax the kidneys, cause weight gain, and cause elevated blood lipids if the protein source is from foods high in total and saturated fats.
It's healthier to get your protein from whole foods, but sometimes modern life makes that challenging. Protein supplements can come in the form of powders, capsules, bars, shakes and meal replacements. For weight loss, look for supplements that are 200 calories or less, low in fats (2grams or less), and low in sugar and/or carbohydrates.
Best Habits To Get the Most out of Protein Consumption
-Eat protein regularly throughout the day
-Thoroughly chew your food -Reduce stress -Avoid intense exercise right after a meal
-Limit alcohol consumption
-Manage any underlying medical condition that affects digestion, such as diabetes or liver disease -Take probiotics, which can improve protein consumption -Follow a regular exercise routine
-Consume protein within 45 minutes of exercise to help repair muscle