The Bottom Line: Are You Eating Enough High
In this case, the better question might be are you eating enough types of protein-rich foods? After all, according to a 2018 analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, most adults exceed the recommended intake of proteinconsuming an average of 88 grams a day. As we said before, theres no one-size-fits-all recommended protein intake. But for comparison, most women need around 46 grams of protein per day, and men need 56 grams, according to the USDAs recent dietary guidelines. You may be getting enough of the macronutrient, not all sources are created equalproteins can be lean or high in saturated fats.
Case in point: The amount of protein in a pork chop and piece of salmon are similar, but the pork has more than three times the saturated fat. Similarly, beef and certain cheeses are typically higher in saturated fat, which can raise bad cholesterol levels and have been linked to increased risk of heart disease or stroke. Current guidelines recommend limiting saturated fat intake, but that doesnt mean you have to revamp your entire eating style. Instead, consider incorporating more healthy fats found in nuts, seeds, and seafood to your diet.
Nicole Saporita is a senior content manager for consumer wellness at WW. A writer, editor, and content strategist based in New York, she specializes in health & wellness, lifestyle, consumer products, and more. Her work has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Prevention, and REDBOOK magazines.
Balancing Protein With Fat And Carbs
You may also want to consider counting your protein by balancing macros. Measuring protein as a percentage of your calorie intake is worthwhile. Eating the right amount of protein is about more than just protein. Macronutrients dont exist separately they interact with each other in the body. Getting the right balance is important for health and for hitting fitness and weight loss goals.
One way to determine the right balance of macronutrients is to look at body type. The percentages given here refer to the ratio of calories coming from a particular macronutrient:
- Ectomorph. This body type is naturally thin because of a relatively high metabolic rate. Ectomorphs should aim for a ratio of 25 percent protein, 55 percent carbohydrates, and 20 percent fat.
- Endomorph. Endomorph body type is naturally heavier with a slower metabolism. These clients should eat a ratio closer to 35 percent protein, 25 percent carbohydrates, and 40 percent fat.
- Mesomorph. A mesomorph has an athletic body and builds muscle fairly easily. A ratio of 30 percent protein, 40 percent carbs, and 30 percent fat is ideal.
Keep in mind that not everyone fits neatly into one body type category. But this is a good place to start for your client who wants to consider all her macros. She can start with the guidelines for the body type she is closest to and adjust as needed for weight loss or maintenance or for muscle building.
The Benefits Of Protein For Weight Loss Explained
While the research cannot conclusively determine that dietary protein alone promotes weight loss or that high protein diets are the best approach to losing weight, what weve seen so far is fairly compelling.
It is becoming more apparent that higher protein intake has some serious potential benefits for dieters.
There are three main arguments for why you should consider consuming more protein when looking to shed pounds.
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Signs Youre Not Eating Enough Protein
Not all women need to count grams of protein. If your client has very specific fitness goals, or really struggles to balance macros or lose weight, counting can be useful. For the rest of us it may just take greater awareness to realize if were not getting enough protein:
- Feeling unusually fatigued or weak
- Brittle or damaged hair and nails, flaky skin
- Being hungry a lot of the time
- Getting sick a lot or staying sick longer than expected
- Slow healing of wounds
- Edema, swollen feet or hands
Check out this post on the ISSA blog about protein myths to learn more about this important macronutrient and why its hard to get too much.
Leucine Benefits & Leucine Threshold
There are a lot of leucine benefits. Leucine is suspected to be the only amino acid that can stimulate muscle growth and help prevent the deterioration of muscle with age.
The leucine threshold is the amount of leucine thats been shown to trigger muscle protein synthesis. The amount of leucine required to do this is at least 3 grams but preferably closer to 4. This is the amount of leucine naturally found in 30 grams of many animal-based protein sources.
Studies in humans show that even in the presence of a high protein meal, adding leucine further augments protein synthesis. Because muscle protein synthesis is what creates new muscle tissue, optimizing your leucine amount per meal, even if your meal is high in protein, may further boost muscle gain.
In fact, recent studies suggest that the chief factor in determining how well a protein builds muscle is how much leucine the protein contains.
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So How Much Do I Need
For people who are attempting to lose weight we recommend eating between 1.2 and 1.6 g of protein per kilogram of weight.
More importantly, we recommend spreading the protein you eat relatively evenly between your meals. This is what we call the Protein Balance philosophy. For most, that means eating more protein at breakfast and lunch and less at dinner, with at least 25 g at each meal.
Quality As Important As Quantity
Enough protein is important – but so is the quality of the protein and what you eat with it. If your main protein source is junk food, losing weight might be a challenge. Burgers and fried chicken contain lots of protein but lots of other, not so good stuff too!
For maximum effect from the protein you eat, always choose whole food sources of protein, such as:
- Lean beef and chicken
- Dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese
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Make Sure You Eat Enough
The best way to reap protein benefits is to incorporate it into your diet over the course of a day, starting with breakfast. A study by the Institute of Food Technologists found that people eating protein-rich breakfasts ate 200 fewer calories at night than those who didn’t. You can get 15 grams with an Oikos Greek yogurt or 6 grams with one egg. If you’re stocking up on other obviously protein-rich foods like grilled chicken and protein shakes for lunch and dinner, but still missing the mark, don’t forget to use snack time to your advantage.
How Much Protein Should You Eat While Pregnant
Growing a human requires a bit more protein intake. Along with your protein needs, your body has to account for your babys nutrients too.
But, some researchers note that this amount doesnt take into account the changing needs during different pregnancy stages. Some will recommend 1.2 to 1.52 g/kg each day in early pregnancy and late pregnancy .The same goes for those exclusively breastfeeding. Research indicates that in order to maintain your own muscle mass while providing adequate nutrition to your bébés, you should aim to eat around 1.7 to 1.9 g/kg of protein per day.
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Protein Is Hard To Store As Body Fat
During periods of weight loss, there are often times where more energy is consumed than expended. As such, minimizing how much of that excess energy is stored as fat is important.
The body processes the three different macronutrients in very different ways.
Leaving out a lot of jargon and mumbo jumbo, in order for protein to be stored as fat, it goes through a much different biochemical process than either carbohydrates or protein.
This process makes it much harder for protein to store as body fat.
One study found that protein is stored as body fat with roughly 66% efficiency, while carbohydrates store with 80% efficiency and fats store at 96% efficiency .
During weight loss, overeating protein results in much less stored body fat than overeating on carbohydrates or fat. If you are looking for ways to lose weight fast, consuming protein is a great option!
Why Might You Eat More Protein
Since we need protein to grow, maintain, and repair our tissues, hormones and immune system, there are times we need more protein.
The standard RDA of 0.8 g/kg is great if youre sedentary and not building or repairing your tissue.
But you may need more protein if you are:
- physically active, either through workouts or your job
- injured or sick
- improve other indicators of cardiometabolic health.
Win all around.
Here are some specific scenarios that might call for more protein.
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Protein Bars Are Really Just Candy Bars With A Bit Of Extra Protein
Indeed, research on the muscle-building power of protein supplements is varied. A 2014 analysis of 36 papers found that protein supplements have no impact on lean mass and muscle strength during the first few weeks of resistance training in untrained individuals.
Over time and if the training becomes harder, supplements can promote muscle growth. However, the paper also concludes that these changes have not been proven over the long term. A 2012 review paper further says that protein increases physical performance, training recovery and lean body mass but for the benefit to be optimal, it should be in combination with a fast-acting carbohydrate.
But even if athletes and gym goers may benefit from a post-workout protein boost, that doesnt mean they should reach for the supplements and smoothies. Most people get more than their daily recommended allowance from food, says Kevin Tipton, a sport professor of the University of Stirling. Theres no need for anyone to have supplements. Theyre a convenient way to get protein, but theres nothing in supplements you cant get in food. Protein bars are really just candy bars with a bit of extra protein.
The global protein supplements market was valued at $12.4bn in 2016
Protein Before And After A Workout
Another important consideration is how to eat before and after exercise. A quick search of this topic will bring up a lot of conflicting answers as to what, how much, and when you should eat before and after working out. Generally its a good idea to have a good mix of protein and carbs a couple of hours before exercise so that you have the energy to do it.
After a workout, many experts suggest you should consume protein within a certain window of time. Again, there is debate and conflicting evidence as to how long the window is and how important it is to get some protein during it. A good rule of thumb is to consume between 0.4 and 0.5 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight within a couple of hours of a training session.
Because the evidence from research is mixed, dont get too bent out of shape trying to figure out specifics of eating protein after a workout. What is clear is that the overall protein you consume in a day is more important to muscle and fitness gains than timing protein consumption.
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Monitor Overall Body Composition Instead Of Obsessing Over Ketone Production
Ketone levels have become the most prioritized metric when assessing a successful ketogenic diet.
A large percentage of the keto community believe that as long as your urine strips show a high indicator of ketones, that you are successfully burning body fat and losing weight.
But this is not the most accurate measurement to monitor on the low-carb, high-fat lifestyle.
Focusing on long-term, lean tissue growth will provide you with a much more accurate evaluation of your ketogenic diet.
This is because your body produces large amounts of excess ketones when you first start the ketogenic diet. And since your body isnt used to prioritizing fats for fuel yet, these ketones are excreted through your breath and urine.
But the longer you stick to keto, the more efficient your mitochondria become with ketone utilization.
In fact, most long-term ketogenic dieters who are fat-adaptedhave lower ketone levels because their body has become more efficient in using ketones for energy, rather than excreting it through urine and breath.
Eating large amounts of fats will also produce high ketones.
Many people will experience weight loss plateaus on keto because they are eating well above their calorie needs without realizing it. When this happens, your body will utilize the dietary fats that are being consumed first to produce ketones instead of burning off stored body fat. This means even if you restrict carbs, youll still gain weight.
How To Get More Protein While Using Intermittent Fasting To Lose Weight
This episode is going to teach you how much protein you actually need to lose weight, and how to eat more protein when using intermittent fasting.
You may have heard that intermittent fasting is one of the best ways to lose weight…and for many, it is! It can be the needle mover in a plateau. Plus its easy, convenient, free and saves you time on meal prep and dishes.
But a common pitfall people who are trying to lose weight can fall into, is using intermittent fasting as a means of restrictions – falling back into the old diet mentality. Then, when they do eat, theyre under-fueling and putting their body in a state of starvation.
When done right, intermittent fasting boosts your metabolism.
When done wrong, its no better than a regular chronic calorie restricted diet thats been shown to crash your metabolism for 6 months to 4 years, leading to weight regain.
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How Much Weight Can I Lose On A High
A high-protein diet can be great for weight loss since it naturally allows you to cut back on other items, like swapping in a salmon dish instead of pasta for dinner, according to Brigitte Zeitlin, a registered dietitian and owner of BZ Nutrition in New York City.
The amount of weight you may lose, though, will depend on various factors, including age, gender, what your initial diet looks like, and which types of protein youre adding to your diet .
One thing to keep in mind is that bodies absorb protein better when it comes with some carbohydrates, so pair your proteins with a vegetable or fruit to get the most out of it, says Zeitlin.
How Much Protein Should I Be Eating For Weight Loss
Experts advise consuming between 0.5 grams and 1.0 grams of protein per pound of your body weight. That’s 70 grams to 140 grams a day for a 140-pound woman. Skew on the high end if you’re very active, and on the low end if you’re trying to lose weight. If both apply, shoot for an amount somewhere in the middlearound 130 grams.
Aim to get at least 30 of those grams at breakfast, says Donald Layman, PhD, a professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois. After fasting all night, your body is running on empty and may start drawing on muscle tissue for fuel if you don’t replenish its protein stores first thing in the a.m. Plus, studies have found that protein-rich breakfasts can help regulate your appetite all day.
But not all proteins are created equal. While nuts, whole grains, and veggies technically count, they don’t contain all nine of the amino acids your body needs in order to build lean muscle. Those that doknown as complete proteinsare typically found in animal products. Your best bets are skinless white chicken or turkey, seafood, low-fat dairy, pork tenderloin, and lean beef. All of these foods have just one to three grams of fat per 50-calorie serving.
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The Best Sources Of Keto Protein
Not all protein sources are healthy for you. The belief that your body utilizes macros the same way no matter what source it comes from has been debunked by science.
A meta-analysis conducted on over 450,000 men and women observed the difference between processed meats and red meat to evaluate which one has higher carcinogenicity. Based on this review, scientists concluded that processed meats can cause colorectal and stomach cancer whereas red meat did not.
Processed meats you should avoid on keto include:
- Supports skin health
What Is The Thermogenic Effect Of Protein
It takes energy to digest your food – commonly referred to as the thermic effect of food . And as it turns out, each macro requires a different amount of energy to digest.
Protein is thought to be the most thermogenic of all the macros – causing a small spike in metabolism to digest protein foods compared to fat and carbs . And it is commonly believed that eating more protein overall may lead to tiny increases in your daily metabolism and overall energy expenditure.
TEF only accounts for 10% of your total energy expenditure, but because dieting is associated with decreases in metabolism over time – due to prolonged caloric restriction and decreases in mass, this minor effect on metabolism may be worth considering .
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How Did We Calculate Your Protein Intake
Bodybuilding.com’s protein calculator starts with the Mifflin St. Jeor equation, which is considered by our nutritionists and dieticians to be the “gold standard” of calorie calculators. Here’s how it works:
Calculate basal metabolic rate , or the calories your body burns simply by being alive. For men: 10 x weight + 6.25 x height â 5 x age + 5 For women: 10 x weight + 6.25 x height â 5 x age -161
Then, this BMR count is multiplied, depending on your activity level:
Sedentary = 1.2