By Dr. Caroline Cederquist and Joy Lynn Post –
The question of the century: What’s the best way to lose weight? With all the media reports and magazines and even internet claims that attempt to answer this renowned question, it can be tough to separate out fact from fiction. There is more to weight loss than just decreasing calories and exercising more, although this approach certainly underlines most weight loss programs. If you are starving daily and ravenous at night, then it is only matter of time before that program will fail.
If you are looking for the best way to lose weight, and fit into smaller clothing sizes, then try on protein to see how it fits. The most important contribution protein can make for your weight loss is: satisfaction. As the most satiating nutrient, you will feel the ‘fullness’ that is so important for someone trying to lose weight. Lean protein can satisfy your sometimes-bothersome appetite by providing a slow energy release. Protein works biochemically, instead of physically. For example eating a huge salad will make you feel fuller because of the physical stretch and volume of the food. But protein actually works on a biochemical level, feeding your lean muscle tissue, and providing the amino acids you need to survive, as well as turning off certain hunger mechanisms.
Your lean muscle tissue is your biggest ally when you are trying to lose weight. Even at rest, if you have more lean muscle tissue, you will burn more calories in a day. Protein feeds muscle tissue, along with many other body systems. When your body senses that there is simply not enough protein supplied by your diet, it will ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’, by breaking down the protein that your body has in storage, specifically, muscle protein.
Your body uses protein for all kinds of things. It needs it to create enzymes which are the powerful protein parts of cells that make things happen. Organs, tissues, and hormones are made from proteins, as well as blood proteins, messenger proteins, and not to forget your muscle tissue is comprised of proteins. When you start skimping on your protein intake, your body has to scramble to obtain its own protein, specifically from reserves of lean muscle tissue. This is not a good thing, because when your body is breaking down muscle, your metabolism will slow dramatically. So if you are looking for the best way to lose weight, making sure you eat protein at every meal will take you far.
Think of protein as a fuel for your metabolic engine, which needs enough gas to keep it running until the next meal or snack time. When you skip a fill-up, then your engine has to kick into a lower gear, and begins cough and sputter, and it starts to run slower. Keeping your engine fueled and your metabolism running high is extremely important when you are trying to lose weight.
According to the most recent Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) Annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in San Diego, researchers represented that protein at each meal is the most important way to ensure that you are getting enough. Ideally 25-30g of protein at each meal is paramount for anyone, whether they are looking for the best way to lose weight or not.
Breaking it up and consuming protein throughout the day – instead of just a large serving with dinner- is key to ensure that your cells have access to protein all day, and to help stave off your appetite during waking hours. People who have met their daily requirement of protein during the first half of the day are typically less hungry at the end of the day.
Protein stores typically decline with aging, and if you want to stay strong and lean into your later years of life, it’s important to eat protein with every meal and stay active.
Heart-healthy turkey, chicken, tuna, and roast beef are lean proteins that are easy to add to salads, and tucked inside sandwiches. Seafood like crab, fish, and shrimp are also excellent sources of lean protein, and fatty fish like salmon and halibut contain healthy omega-3s, which are important to take in each day. Lean dairy proteins like lowfat cottage cheese, greek yogurt, and lowfat milk are also a great way to ensure a dose of protein at each meal.
See the guide below for ways to add protein, and find out for yourself this really is the best way to lose weight.
Food Source Protein (grams)
1 cup lowfat cottage cheese 23
8 oz nonfat greek yogurt 18
4 oz lean chicken, turkey or fish 30
1 6 oz can of tuna 35
1 scoop protein powder 15-25
1 oz lowfat cheese 8
2 oz lean deli meat 14