Eat More Protein to Lose Weight
For decades, low-carb diets have been all the rage. Like any food, carbohydrates should be eaten in moderation, but a high-protein diet, however, is the secret weapon for losing weight Maria Adkins RD says.
- Related: 5 Ways to Quickly Lose 10 Pounds
How Much Protein Should I Eat Daily?
The recommended daily intake of protein is about 45 grams per day, but most Americans eat more. The main benefit of eating a diet high in protein is that it keeps you feeling full, for longer. But, eating high-quality protein – like almonds, eggs or salmon – that contains omega-3 fatty acids, can have additional health benefits, including:
- Reducing inflammation
- Lowering the risk of chronic diseases (heart disease, cancer, arthritis)
- Improving cognitive function (brain memory and performance)
Maria says it’s good to shoot for 70 or 80 grams of protein a day (spreading it out with each snack or meal) and to stay hydrated. “We’re talking 12 to 15 grams, six times each day,” she explains. “You’re increasing your metabolism, which is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).”
The Thermic Effect of Food: How it Boosts Your Metabolism
The thermic effect of food refers to how much energy you burn from digesting food. Protein uses much more energy to break down, digest and expend for energy, compared to carbohydrates and fats.
“Let’s say you have two people – one who eats 80 grams of protein daily and one who eats 60 grams – and they both have sedentary jobs,” Maria explains. “The person who eats 80 grams is going to lose more weight.” In this case, the person who eats more protein is more likely to have lean body mass, which means they have a higher chance of fat loss, and they’re less likely to crave carbohydrates later in the day.
If you do follow a high-protein diet, Maria says it’s important to stay hydrated. This is because the body has to use more water to flush out the nitrogen in protein, leading to more bathroom trips – and dehydration.
*All professionals quoted in this article were affiliated with TriHealth at the time of initial publication.
Last Updated: June 20, 2014