I was at my daughters State Championship Water Polo Tournament when I overheard a coach , not my daughters, talking to his team.
They had just won a hard fought game and the coach told them what a great job they did and that they now needed to “go rest and eat some protein” (don’t get me started on coaches and blind advice). Upon hearing this, one of the parents started talking to her friend about how protein has helped her lose weight.
We have all heard it right?
Protein helps you lose weight and maintain muscle mass during weight loss.
Was she right?
Yes, until she kept talking.
She went on to tell her friend all the sources of her protein.
When considering these sources she was way off. Her poor friend got an earful of poor advice.
While these sources have some protein they are not considered protein rich foods.
When looking at foods and calssifying them we need to look at that foods macronutrient profile.
Peanut butter is predominantly a fat.
Chobani yogurt has more carbs than protein as does beans and quinoa.
Her weight loss was more than likely due to caloric restriction, not her increased protein intake.
So, the question remains.
Does protein help you lose weight and maintain muscle mass while in a fat loss phase?
Let’s look at some interesting research.
Being the geek I am I started digging. I found a study that looked at stratified groups of men and women that were on a weight loss program. The research was for one year and found that a 500 daily calorie deficit resulted in a 9.9-11.2% weight loss.
Yes however, they found that the low protein group lost just as much, if not more in some cases, than the higher protein group.
Now, before you get all excited let me continue.
When measuring only fat mass the high protein group lost significantly more fat than did the low protein group when caloric ranges were kept equal.
The study also noted that the higher protein benefited both men and women although the men lost an inherently higher body fat percentage.
There are a number of studies that have noted similar results with various trials. When reducing calories, protein is an important nutrient to promote the preservation of lean mass.
Some of the trials noted that a greater consumption of protein and dairy foods is associated with more favorable body composition changes during weight loss in older people.
Does this mean you need to run out and drastically increase your protein consumption?
Most of the trials note best results with a 25-30% daily protein macronutrient range.
ALERT THE SUPPLEMENT INDUSTRY!
HOLD PLEASE… That would be a waste of time. They don’t want you to hear that.
A 25-30% is not drastic at all. In fact that’s the recommended range the American Dietetic Association advises.
What’s the takeaway?
Your protein values don’t need to be elevated through the roof, despite what coaches, trainers and the supplement industry preach.
Look at the quality the protein source for your overall protein intake. Look for the a higher value of essential amino acids, as they tend to be better correlated to inducing fat loss. Not only do the essential proteins help your body burn fat and maintain lean mass they aid in organ, bone, ligament and tendon health as well.
The best sources, sorry animal lovers, tend to be animal proteins like, meat, fish, eggs and dairy. It should be noted that the protein supplements of whey and casein are two common protein supplements and are both derived from dairy.
You can also get decent protein sources from plants but, be sure all the essential amino acids are covered. You will need to combine various sources to ensure a balanced amino profile. Be aware of carbohydrate increases when following a plant based approach. It can be done but you need to be wise and on your toes. Yes, you can buy supplements that are derived from plant sources but, many are not of high quality.
Overall, protein takes precedence. Beyond that, animal sources tend to be better than plant sources due to a higher percentage of essential amino acids.
Either way balance your amino profile and be sure your proteins are of high quality.
Balance is key.
Listen to your body.
Feed your body what it needs and what it reacts to best.
Focus on your health, your ideal body composition and
Discover your ELITE.