How Protein Helps Weight Loss

Contrary to carbohydrates and fats, which are primarily energy sources, proteins play vital roles within the body: building, repairing and providing the structural building blocks of virtually every cell in your body. They are the basic structural material of all cells. Your muscles, organs and many of your hormones are made up of protein. Protein is used in the manufacture of hemoglobin (the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen to your body). Protein is needed for the manufacture of antibodies that fight infection and disease. It is also central to your body’s blood clotting ability (i.e. stops you from bleeding).

Proteins are made up of smaller units, known as amino acids, which link up in various combinations to form chains. These amino acids can be divided into non-essential amino acids, which your body can manufacture and essential amino acids, which you can only obtain from dietary sources. Add to this that your body is unable to store protein and it is clear that you need to eat protein every day, preferably with every meal. You cannot stock up on protein, by eating it once a week! Ingestion of protein containing essential amino acids is critical, since in their absence, the manufacture of proteins that include these is inhibited. If you do not eat sufficient protein containing , your body has to find it elsewhere and will look to your muscle for answers.


Chicken, fish, beans and other high-protein foods slow the movement of food from the stomach to the intestine. Slower stomach emptying means you feel full for longer. Thus protein helps curb your appetite because it helps you feel more full, helps you lose weight. This is important, because the greatest danger to anyone’s dieting intentions is the feeling of hunger. When you’re hungry you make bad food choices. Higher protein intake helps keep you satisfied and hunger free, as well as keeping you energized while you lose weight. This is why when you add whey protein to you breakfast cereal for example, you are unlikely to feel hungry for hours. Research by the University of Washington showed that people who had a diet consisting of 30% protein consumed less calories, although no calorie restrictions had been set. Protein seems to act like an appetite suppressant in ways that carbs and fats can’t, controlling hunger pangs.

Furthermore, your body has to burn more energy to digest protein than it does to digest fat or carbohydrate. Protein will help build your muscle and reduce loss of muscle mass. This will keep your metabolism revved up.


It is important to pay attention to what accompanies the protein you eat. High-protein animal foods often are high in saturated fat. You should look for animal products which are low in fat, such as non fat dairy and lean meats. Lean cuts of meat:

Round steaks and roasts (round eye, top round, bottom round, round tip), top loin, top sirloin, and chuck shoulder and arm roasts.
Pork loin, tenderloin, center loin, and ham.
Extra lean – check the label should for “at least 90% lean”.
Boneless skinless chicken breasts and turkey cutlets. Buy skinless chicken parts, or take off the skin before cooking.

Other lean proteins food include fish, egg whites, non/ low-fat dairy and protein powder (e.g. whey protein).

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