Protein, protein, protein. Protein shakes, bars, cookies and even canned drinks. It’s seen everywhere- gas stations, your local gyms, and commercials. Is it as necessary as everyone makes it seem? Yes, and it can even help you lose weight in a way you may not have considered.
Protein is the builder of all tissues in the body from muscles to collagen, bones and nerves. The body is in a constant state of decay and birth aka catabolic and anabolic states (add them together and you get your metabolism). Everything in your body is made of cells and these cells die and are remade by protein molecules.
Now, the Dietary Reference Intake recommends 0.36g of protein per pound of body weight. That means if you’re a 180lb person you should be eating 64.8g protein per day. Keep in mind though that’s for everyday sedentary people who do not exercise and aren’t trying to lose weight.
Let’s say that now you’re that same 180lbs person and you want to start exercising and losing weight. You now have yourself a personal trainer and that trainer has you doing strength training, high intensity interval training and cardio. Remember, metabolism is a sum of both building and decaying tissue in your body and as a result of everything your personal trainer has you doing you’ll be more on the decay part of that equation. That original 64.8g of protein (about one 12oz piece of chicken) isn’t enough to even out the metabolism equation. However, lets say you bump that protein consumption from 64.8g to 135g of protein (.75g per pound of bodyweight). Not only will you pack on muscle, but you’ll have faster weight loss as compared to the same amount of exercise with less protein.
Proteins are complex molecules that take lots of energy to break down. That energy comes in the form of calories and it takes way more calories to break proteins down than fats and carbs. That means that you are literally burning calories at rest to break down protein that in turn are going to help you build muscle, bone and other vital tissues.
I recommend for those trying to lose weight to try a general whey isolate protein powder (as long as you don’t have any milk and nut allergies). Whey isolates have virtually no carbs (0-3g per serving), but are packed with protein (20-25g per serving). If you’re not a shake kind of person, try just adding more lean meats to your diet (chicken, pork, fish). Weight loss is possible for everyone as long as they exercise and are in a calorie deficit, however the real change come when extra protein is introduced to the diet.
(Written by Coach Khalil Harrison)