A lot of people know that when trying to lose weight and improve your health, you should eat more protein. And this is true. You should also reduce your carb intake if you’re trying to lose weight (read more about this here).
OK before I get into WHY, I just wanted to clarify one thing about eating protein and building muscle. A lot of women ask me if they should reduce their protein intake to reduce their muscle size or prevent their muscles from getting too bulky. And it’s a fair question.
When you exercise, your muscles tear. When the muscles are repaired, they are bigger and stronger (i.e. this is what makes your muscles look bigger). Eating protein after a workout will help your muscles repair (protein is made from amino acids, and amino acids are the building blocks for muscles).
If you cut down your protein intake, your muscles are still going to tear and repair themselves. Eating less protein will just mean your muscles will take longer to repair, which isn’t really a good thing. Eating less protein won’t change the shape of your muscles.
What actually causes your muscles to increase in size is the type of workout that you do, NOT your protein intake. As I said, protein just helps the muscles repair. So if you don’t want bulky muscles, you need to change your workout, not your protein intake.
OK I hope that clarifies that! Let’s talk about the other reasons that you need protein, especially to help with fat loss :)
Eating more protein helps you feel more full and for longer, as it slows down digestion (see next point) and it affects your hormones that control the feelings of hunger/appetite and fullness (in a good way). This means that you are less likely to overeat and you will eat less calories overall.
I must mention here that fiber is also great for making you feel full. Protein and fiber together (and especially post workout) is great! I always try to have a protein smoothie after my workout. My smoothie usually contains banana, strawberries (both high in fiber and nutrients), protein powder, chia seeds (super high in fiber) and almond milk.
Eating protein actually helps you burn more calories because it has the highest thermic effect of food. The thermic effect of food is how many calories your body burns digesting this food.
When you eat protein, 20-35% of this will be used up during digestion, compared to 5-15% for carbs and fats.
A higher protein diet has been shown to boost your metabolism and increase your total amount of calories burned during the day, and even when you are sleeping!
As I explained already, protein helps your muscles recover quicker and also helps to prevent soreness. This means you’ll be able to workout more and you won’t be left feeling sore for days.
Increasing your protein intake is one of the simplest things you can do to lose weight!
Some high protein foods include: