To lose weight and maintain your progress, protein is essential! Here are the benefits of protein for weight loss and maintenance.
There is no doubt about it – there are tons of weight loss programs out there. It can be a daunting task trying to sift through all of them. The problem with many, though, is that they are short-sighted and only focus on scale weight. Managing weight loss and maintaining achieved weight, though, is much more than just cutting back on calories, exercising more, and scoring a desired number on your scale.
Find out 3 ways whey protein makes a difference in managing weight loss and maintaining those results you’ve worked so hard for.
#1 Lose the Fat but Keep the Muscle
Is there really a wrong kind of weight loss? Definitely! During weight loss, energy intake may be restricted to fewer calories which, although can lead to weight loss, may be counterproductive in the long run for two reasons. It can lead to that stubborn weight plateau or, worse, weight regain immediately after weight loss. Also, it can lead to deleterious metabolic consequences. 1
The reason? Less calorie intake means less protein intake. Less protein intake means less amino acids circulating in the blood. In this state, the body is more likely to go to its own muscle to break it down and use it to replenish its amino acid pool.
The solution? Minimize the breakdown of muscle mass during weight loss. A great way to lose the weight and extra fat without tapping into your muscles is whey protein.2 Whey can help preserve and even increase lean muscle mass during weight loss and weight maintenance when combined with exercise. 3
Skeletal muscle is involved in more than just strength, performance, and physical function. It also plays a critical role in normal metabolism. Preserving skeletal muscle protects from metabolic abnormalities, such as high blood glucose or lipidemia.
Research about protein-rich diets is constantly rolling in. A large body of evidence shows that higher protein intakes (as much as 2 to 3 times the Recommended Dietary Allowance of 0.8g/kg/day) is needed to preserve muscle during weight loss. 4
#2 A Natural Way to Curb your Appetite
Calorie for calorie, protein is generally more filling than fats or carbs. 5 Feeling satiated can lead to better weight loss because it helps reduce overeating. Over a longer period of time, total calorie consumption generally decreases.
Since whey protein digests fast (faster than the other protein found in milk known as casein), amino acids are quickly released into the blood. These circulating amino acids have been shown to influence certain hormones involved in appetite. 6 In fact, research shows that even the brain responds better to protein-rich meals by suppressing regions responsible for food cravings and motivation to eat. 7
#3 LEUCINE: A Key Amino Acid for Weight Loss
This amino acid is more than just a building block for protein. It is a branched chain amino acid that triggers muscle building even during fasting or when calories are restricted. It is involved in glycemic control and can work as a fuel for skeletal muscle. Research shows leucine may also enhance satiety.8 Whey protein is one of the richest sources of leucine out there.
To benefit from these key strategies to weight loss locked in whey protein, remember two main principles of whey protein intake:
- Remember, it’s not just about preventing protein deficiency. That’s just the bare minimum. It’s about achieving optimal health, fitness, and well-being. Recent research shows that the RDA of 0.8g/kg/day of protein is based on the minimal amount of protein needed to simply prevent protein deficiency. This amount will not necessarily promote your health and fitness. In other words, we may need more protein than we thought. 9
Research shows that levels slightly above the RDA are helpful in maintaining or achieving a healthy body weight, increasing satiety, and improve lean muscle mass.
- Distribution and Timing! It sounds complicated but it really isn’t. In fact, it’s natural. It’s not just about getting a set amount of protein in one day. It’s also about getting it in a meal-driven method. Your body cannot use up a certain amount of protein it needs at a time and store the rest for later.
To maximize the weight loss benefits of whey, it’s best to evenly distribute your intake throughout the day. 10, 11 Don’t limit your protein to post-workout meals or dinner. Breakfast and lunch are also important opportunities you don’t want to miss out on. A simple and convenient way to sneak whey protein into your mornings is with a whey protein isolate powder added to a smoothie.
Gerry Morton is the CEO of EnergyFirst, holds an MS in Nutrition and is an experienced athlete who has competed in 30+ marathons and 4 Ironman triathlons. http://www.energyfirst.com is known for offering the world’s best tasting, highest quality, all natural, premium nutrition products such as whey protein powder, energy bar, green drinks etc. On twitter @EnergyFirst.
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- Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2002:843.
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