Reducing calories, cutting down on carbs, and eating more greens are sure-fire ways to lose weight; however, it may be surprising for many to learn that increasing protein consumption is also helpful. Even upping dairy calories by adding more protein may result in weight loss. The reason is somewhat counter-intuitive, yet it makes sense when considering the metabolic processes within the body.
The body can easily process sugars. Sugars are quickly consumed for instant energy and any excessive amounts, which are not burned up right away, are converted to fat to be stored for future use. Low activity, high-stress levels, and various unhealthy lifestyles make it easier for sugar to turn into body fat. Protein is consumed more slowly than sugar and it takes more body energy to consume it.
Impact of Increased Protein
Consuming protein is more satisfying over a longer period. Eating sugar causes a sugar “rush” which easily results in continual sugar cravings to chase the sugar high. Eating protein instead causes a reduction in appetite and reduced cravings.
PopSugar reported on an expert that lost weight by adding more daily calories by eating more protein. This surprised the woman because she already was on a very healthy diet. She was not aware that her daily intake of protein was less than optimal. She was eating only 60 grams of protein each day when the recommendation for her was 100 daily grams.
She added 40 grams of protein to her daily diet, which consisted of having a protein shake that added over 220 more daily calories. When she increased her daily protein intake, she saw an immediate improvement in reduced appetite and then surprising weight loss in spite of consuming more calories.
Healthline explains more about this phenomena and notes that eating protein increases metabolic rate, lowers appetite, and changes the amount of weight-regulating hormones. The surprising impact of eating protein is the reduction of the hormone, ghrelin, which reduces the feeling of hunger and the increase in the hormones, cholecystokinin, GLP-1, and peptide YY that reduces appetite.
The hormonal effects of eating protein date back to ancestral times when humans would gorge on a captured kill, eating meat protein until completely satiated.
Another interesting thing to consider is the amount of energy needed to digest and metabolize different types of foods. This is called the thermic effect (TEF). Protein consumption has a much higher TEF of 20 percent to 30 percent when compared to eating carbs with a TEF of 5 percent to 10 percent, or fat with a TEF of only 0 percent to 3 percent. In other words, to convert 100 calories of protein to usable energy for the body it takes 30 calories for the conversion process, resulting in only 70 calories that the body can utilize.
Adding protein to an otherwise healthy and balanced diet is an additional way to lose weight, even if more daily calories are eaten.