Protein is known for its numerous benefits including fighting off hunger and preventing the loss of muscle tissue associated with weight loss (generally two-thirds of this is fat tissue, other is lean tissue). It is a repairing macronutrient and a regenerative for skin, nails and hair – although some people only associate protein consumption with ‘gains’.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight… but to be honest with you, that’s not going to be enough. Every person has a unique recommended allowance, but on a general basis should be consuming what equates to 30% of your daily calorie allowance. Of course, if you’re all over your macronutrient breakdowns, you’ll know what percentage works best for you. Eating protein can reduce hunger and boost metabolism and it is important to note that if you are consuming too much protein (more than what your body needs) the excess will need to be utilised as energy or risk being turned into fat.
Complete Protein Sources
Animal sources of protein contain all 9 amino acids, this is known as a ‘complete protein’. Plant-based dieters need to ensure that they are eating a wide variety of plant-foods for their body to receive all 9 essential amino acids; this is known as protein combining. Your body does not store extra amino acids or protein for later use, so by increasing your protein intake you may be consuming too many calories.
If you are not consuming enough amino acids this can cause muscle protein degradation or a negative protein balance. Eating too little protein can result in a number of symptoms including a sluggish metabolism, trouble losing weight, low energy levels, muscle and joint pains, and poor concentration. You might be working out more, but seeing less results if you aren’t eating protein for tissue repair and your energy needs.
How much protein is enough?
Each person is different when it comes to their protein needs - weight, gender, age and level of activity all come in to the equation. By consuming 30% of your daily calories (found by calculating your BMR/TDEE) you may find a cut in cravings by up to 60%… just by adding protein to your diet.
BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)
This is what calories you burn at rest - what you’re burning to keep your body functioning and alive. To calculate you will need your gender, age, weight, and height.
Women BMR = 655 + (9.6 x weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) - (4.7 x age in years)
Men BMR = 66 + (13.7 x weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) - (6.8 x age in years)
TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure)
BMR x by energy output (daily tasks, exercise, etc) = desired calorie intake for maintenance.
Sedentary (little/no exercise, desk job)= 1.2 X BMR
Lightly Active (light exercise 1-3 days/week)= 1.375 X BMR
Moderately Active (mod. exercise 3.5 days/week) = 1.55 X BMR
Very Active (heavy exercise 6-7 days/week)= 1.725 X BMR
Extremely Active (very heavy exercise/physical job 2x daily)= 1.9 X BMR
Eg. Female who is 27 years old, 178cm (5’10”) tall and weighs 69kg (151lbs) has a BMR of 1520.9cal/day. She is light active, therefore 1520.9 X 1.375 = 2091 calories to maintain.
1g Protein = 4 calories
30% Protein = 627 calories / 157g
If your goal is to lose weight a deficit is needed (roughly 300-500 cals). It is important to not go into a deficit of more than 600 calories as you may be at risk of muscle loss.
Therefore, working on a deficit of 400 calories using the example above:
1691 calorie allowance for weight-loss
30% Protein = 507 calories / 127g
So how does this help weight loss?
Well, protein can:
Increase satiety so you feel fuller for longer
Aids in better sleep
Increase muscle recovery and retention (to promote fat loss instead of muscle and fat loss)
Reduces sugar highs and lows to help reduce overeating as a reaction to low sugar