Protein is an important part of any meal plan if you are looking to lose weight quickly and safely. The best way to describe the function of protein in our bodies is that it is a nutrient that maintains, builds, and repairs tissue.
What Does Protein Do?
When you eat protein, in whatever form, your digestive system breaks the food down into amino acids, which are absorbed by the small intestine, allowing the body to take what it needs to function.
A large portion of the protein that you eat goes into your organs, blood, muscles and supports your immune system. Protein also helps you feel fuller and more satisfied at mealtimes. For these reasons, it is important to include protein in your diet rather than cutting down on your protein intake, as it is essential to losing weight.
However, just like carbohydrates and fats, excess protein consumption can be turned into and stored as fat. Keep reading to find out how much protein you should be eating without it turning into fat.
What Should I Be Eating?
We understand that protein-rich foods aren’t exactly cheap. But you can maximise your body’s ability to digest, absorb, and use protein by distributing your total protein intake throughout all your meals and snacks each day. Simply take the total grams of protein you need daily based on your weight and divide it into the total number of meals and snacks you eat throughout the day.
Protein is found in a myriad of foods including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy and some grains. When it comes to safe and quick weight loss, pairing protein with macronutrients like carbohydrates is best.
If meat is a part of your daily protein intake, look out for leaner cuts like pork and beef tenderloin if you are looking to lose weight. Try to limit red meat portions to once or twice a week – this is due to the high-fat content found in red meat.
Ground meats like mince, are usually a lot higher in fat than other types of meat. Again, look out for leaner options like ground beef that contains 95% lean meat and only 5% fat.
Poultry is typically quite lean when you take the skin out of the equation. However, ground chicken or turkey can be packed with fat. Try to choose chicken or turkey breasts that are 100% lean meat. If it is not 100% meat, it has likely been ground up with the chicken’s skin and fat, making your protein intake less healthy than ground beef.
Frozen or fresh fish is a great way to get your protein in. You can aim to eat 120 grams of fish at least twice per week. Fish are rich in healthy, unsaturated fat called Omega-3.
What Should My Protein Intake Be?
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is based on how much protein you should eat to guard against lean muscle loss and support other important bodily functions. The RDA for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. Take your body weight, multiply it by 0.8 and you will see the amount in grams of protein you should be eating.
Keep in mind, however, that the above calculation is for the average sedentary adult. If you are taking part in regular endurance activities like swimming, running, or cycling, you should be aiming for 1.2 – 1.4 grams per kilogram. If you are doing any regular strength training, you should be aiming for 1.4 – 2 grams per kilogram, but only if you’re looking to increase muscle size.
Another way to calculate the correct protein intake for you is to make protein 20% of your daily caloric intake.
It is always essential to remember, protein still has calories attached to it and eating too many calories will stop you from achieving or maintaining your weight loss goals.
What About Protein Powders And Supplements?
There is a lot of information out there that promotes protein powders to reach your daily protein intake. However, most people can achieve the ideal amount of protein by eating real food. For example, a woman weighing 9 stone only needs to eat around 85 grams of chicken breast, one large egg, a few almonds, and a stick of cheese to reach her daily caloric intake of protein.
Great sources of protein that we recommend you include in your weight-loss meal plan – instead of using protein powders – are black beans, lentils, pinto beans, chicken breasts, eggs, white fish, salmon, cottage cheese, Greek yoghurt, and quinoa.
If you are interested in losing weight safely and effectively, the Alevere Therapy Northampton weight loss programme is a great option to achieve the figure you want. Find out more here.