Weight loss is something that often appears to be extremely complicated, yet is so simplistic. Basic science tells us that if caloric expenditure exceeds caloric intake, some amount of weight will be lost. The same is true in of the opposite, as many have been reminded in the last year. With summer starting and the population coming out of hibernation, many are looking to shed their pandemic pounds. Despite how daunting weight loss may seem, supporting it with a proper diet is essential. High quality protein for weight loss and a metabolic spark is foundational to any successful program.
The source of nutrients we take in is just as important as the nutrients themselves. There’s no shortage of diet plans that base their philosophy off of high-protein meals. Whether its Atkins, South Beach, Dukan, Zone, or Ketogenic diets, high-protein nutrition plans have gained momentum in mainstream culture. While many diet plans are centered around profits and fads, there is legitimate research validating higher protein intake for weight loss.
The Importance of Protein for Weight Loss
Eating meals higher in protein causes a secretion of hormones that make you feel full faster. This means less snacking with empty carbs and poor quality fats in between meals. Meals higher in protein and lower in insulin spiking carbohydrates helps improve metabolic rate. As a result, improvements in leanness will be seen, especially with added exercise. One of the only ways to decrease stubborn belly fat is to change the macronutrients that you consume. Otherwise, all the crunches in the world will be futile.
While most protein rich foods can potentially help boost metabolism, not all of them are good for long-term health. Plant-based sources of protein can be extremely valuable, but aren’t absorbed as efficiently as animal protein. Many plants contain “anti-nutrients”, which can hinder absorption of minerals and amino acids. Proper preparation may to lower these anti-nutrients and improve bio-availability. Furthermore, plant-based proteins usually lack a complete amino acid profile that animal sources contain.
Despite that, many plant-based sources of protein are extremely valuable to include in your diet. Sources such as lentils, peas, tempeh, beans, and more can offer good benefits. Lentils are packed with many nutrients that are excellent for overall health. The high protein, fiber, and nutrient content, along with the low glycemic carbohydrates, make lentils a great choice. Whether for losing weight or just having nutritious meals, organic lentils are some of the healthiest foods around.
One study on legumes and lentils showed that adding one serving per day caused noticeable weight loss over time. The weight loss was seen even when consuming the same number of calories as a control group. This means that there is some other mechanism besides the low caloric count causing the positive effects. While certain legumes are best to stay away from because of high lectin content, lentils are a definite winner.
Animal-Based Protein for Weight Loss
Grass-fed, pasture raised lamb and beef are great sources of nutrients. Unfortunately, red meat has received some unfair attention because of very poorly designed studies and an agenda to push certain foods. As far as dairy, it’s a good idea to minimize A1 dairy (holstein cows) protein if possible. Studies have shown negative consequences from consuming too much of this protein. On the other hand, A2 casein protein from jersey cows, goats, and sheep is much healthier.
Fish and seafood is an amazing source of protein if the level of toxicity is low. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Heavy metals and toxins can wreak havoc on your body as they build up in different organs. Salmon is a nearly perfect source of protein because of its balanced and well-rounded nutrient profile. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, carotenoids, and protein. In addition, salmon is almost always low in mercury if it’s wild-caught. If possible, try to steer clear of farm-raised salmon.
If you want to gain a better understanding of the healthiest and most toxic types of seafood, feel free to check out this article. The lean protein that seafood supplies is ideal for weight loss. Per calorie, seafood has some of the highest protein content of any food around. That certainly qualifies it as a great source of protein for weight loss.
Depending on your weight, including around 17-25 grams of protein per meal when trying to shed pounds should be your sweet spot. While having meals rich in protein is important, improving metabolic rate is more about the overall ratio of nutrients. Meals that are high in oxidized, inflammatory fats, and insulin spiking carbohydrates, are a literal recipe for mediocre results.
It’s beneficial to keep carbohydrate consumption to around 25 grams per meal. Insulin resistance and diabetes are one of the fastest growing conditions worldwide. Prevention through dietary changes is one of the best strategies to adopt to protect you and your family’s health. While some have seen short-term success on the ketogenic diet, it’s not natural for the body to be in a long-term state of ketosis.
As critical as high quality protein for weight loss is, it may be even more important to pay attention to side dishes and snacking. Low glycemic side dishes such as lentils, roasted vegetables, purple potatoes, coleslaw, mushrooms, sauerkraut, olives, and many others are great options. The key is to not be perpetually spiking insulin levels and consuming high amounts of oxidized fats each meal.
Combining these guidelines with an exercise routine and some helpful supplements should cause positive results. One great supplement that helps encourage healthy glucose levels and weight is omega-7 fats. When focusing on weight-loss, one critical factor is to concentrate on improving internal health at the same time. Many weight loss methods compromise internal health for short-lived, external results.