Increasing your intake of protein for fat loss is definitely a good strategy to employ. Even if you keep your overall calories the same but simply increase the portion sizes of foods with protein and slightly reduce your intake of carbohydrates, your body composition will automatically change! The old saying, 'You are what you eat' holds true!
There are a number of mechanisms through which protein can promote weight loss (fat loss).
Calorie (energy) Expenditure and Metabolism
Research has shown that of the three macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat), protein has the greatest 'thermic effect' or requires the most energy to be digested, absorbed and excreted.
This means that a slightly higher protein intake will have the effect of increasing the number of calories the body uses through the process of food assimilation.
Since protein is one of the main components of lean body tissue, having a constant supply of it means that the body can maintain its muscle mass much easier, which therefore means your metabolism can stay elevated as well.
A higher metabolic rate means increased calorie expenditure. As a result, a higher protein intake may increase calorie expenditure indirectly by maintaining muscle mass.
Studies have also shown that a meal higher in protein has a greater satiating (appetite-suppressing) effect compared to iso-caloric meals (meals with the same calories) that had predominantly carbohydrates or fats.
Often people have meals without protein in them at all! Of course, as a result of doing so it is highly likely that they will feel hungry and tend to over-eat more often by not having the portion of protein in their meals.
Reduced insulin secretion
Consuming a whole-food protein source with a carbohydrate-containing food will reduce the absorption rate of the carbohydrates. This will provide a sustained release of glucose into the blood stream and will therefore lower the insulin response.
The reason why whole-food protein sources have been mentioned for blunting the insulin response is because some protein powders (which are in a pre-digested form) do actually increase the insulin response when consumed with carbohydrates. This is because the amino acids can get into the body faster and some of the amino acids have an 'insulinogenic effect' in the body.
Overall, the evidence is mounting in support of increased protein for fat loss. If you are serious about getting the best results, make sure you incorporate this principle into your lifestyle immediately.
Copyright (c) 2009 Stephen Smith
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