Proteins are considered as plastic nutrients, that is, essential for the construction of structures of our body, the muscle between them. But proteins also help us lose weight by the impact they have on our metabolism and its characteristics.
Do not get me wrong, I will not talk about a diet based exclusively on protein is the best thing to lose weight. We already explained in an article the risks of protein overdose . Below we will see how a “correct” intake of protein or something higher than normal can help us with weight loss .
The satiating effect of proteins
When we eat foods high in protein, there is a prolonged satiating effect . That for example does not happen with carbohydrates and less sugars, which have the opposite effect. In this way, with a meal rich in protein we will feel satisfied and with more sensation of fullness, cutting down the caloric contribution.Studies have shown that when people increase their protein intake, they start eating fewer calories.
This can be used as a dietary strategy, so that during the day when you have more anxiety to eat we may eat protein foods to control that feeling and notice the satiety.
Muscle mass increases energy expenditure
Most often it happens that both a sedentary person and an athlete want to lose weight and follow a diet low in calories or exercise a lot. This has its positive side: we will be able to lose weight if the energy deficit is enough. But on the other hand, we can run the risk of not supplying enough protein and be losing muscle mass .
Protecting muscle mass or even increasing it with a hypertrophy routine is essential for weight loss. Muscle is the most metabolically active tissue the body has, even when we are at rest, the more we have the better because more fat we can burn. We can make a diet where we lower calories, but make sure that the protein intake is covered by adding 1.2-1.5 grams of protein per kilo of weight.
This is something that is very paradoxical for someone who starts to do sport to lose weight, because at first you can even gain muscle mass and think that exercise does not work. But all muscle mass that we have is not going to be in vain,it is a long-term investment, like an oven that will not stop burning calories .
Proteins Increase Muscle Building
Something closely related to the previous point and with the aim of creating more muscle tissue in order to be metabolically more active and consume more calories. Amino acids from the diet suppose a stimulus for the protein synthesis, thus we will avoid loss of muscular mass or we will even be able to increase it.
It seems that when eating protein foods there are changes in the levels of essential amino acids, especially leucine. This is a stimulus in the pathways that lead to protein synthesis . If we have triggered the stimulus for muscle building and there are enough amino acids to build it, perfect.
Proteins need more energy to be digested
Consumption of protein foods produces a greater energy expenditure to digest them . It is what we know as the thermal effect of food or thermogenesis . Proteins are complex molecules that digest and need more resources than other nutrients to digest.
A food rich in sugar we know to be absorbed relatively easily, instead an amino acid from a meat protein is not as efficient. While fats and hydrates may need 10-15% of the food energy to digest, proteins will need no less than 25% of the energy expenditure of a food to be digested .
Although figures are not very extreme, this added to the above factors gives us some metabolic advantage to burn more calories and avoid eating more.
Conclusions regarding the proteins to lose weight
Basing a diet on protein is not something miraculous that causes us to lose pounds in an accelerated way. We simply have to make sure that in our diet there are enough proteins, because that way we will have a foothold to improve weight loss. Of course, improving nutritional habits and exercising are the basic pillars of a weight loss program.
Foods like: meat, fish, legumes, egg, milk and nuts are going to be fundamental in a diet to lose weight. Do not rely only on vegetables and fruit, which have few calories, yes, but very few nutrients.
A correct supply of protein will allow you to protect and build muscle, which will spend more calories a day . The sensation of satiety when eating will arrive before us, being able to control the appetite and the anxiety to eat. And finally, digesting proteins costs the body more energy, a little help.
As you see, consuming proteins correctly in a weight loss diet is not miraculous but it will provide us with a little push that will make it more visible to achieve our goal.