Protein is one of the most essential things for your body. If you go too long without protein, even if you’re full on carbs and fat, you may notice a decrease in energy and focus. Aside from that, protein is essential for your body. Proteins are made up of amino acids. These molecules are necessary for life, but our body can’t make them on its own. That’s why you need to have protein in your diet.
Protein makes up a large percentage of your body—it’s the building block for your hair, muscles, bones, and skin. It also helps to regulate your growth and stress response hormones. Proteins can help to take other molecules to different parts of your body, and they help with the numerous chemical reactions taking place in your body.
Diets for weight loss surgery are high protein
When you think about going on a diet, take a cue from the doctor. Medically prescribed diets for weight loss surgery will often be very high in protein. This is because the patient can’t eat more than a few spoonfuls at a time, and you have to pack in as much nutrition as you can. Diets that focus on high protein levels can also help you to feel full for longer. That’s a good thing when you’re restricting how much food you eat per day.
The type of diet you follow will dictate the kind of protein that you consume. For example, your diet could be very high in protein, but also low in fat. Foods for this diet would include chicken breast, black beans, lean beef, white fish, and other lean sources of protein. If you follow the Keto diet, you’d want to maximize your fat intake. That means you could eat regular beef, bacon, pork, salmon, and other high-fat proteins (technically, Keto is a high-fat diet, but the protein levels are still higher than carbs).
The Protein Power diet
An example of a high protein diet is the Protein Power diet. This was started by a husband and wife team of MDs. The first book topped the New York Times Bestseller list for a year when it came out, and they have about 13 books in total now.
The plan is pretty simple. It restricts the carbs you can eat to under 100 grams (or 20%). The diet is fresh-veggie heavy and lean-protein heavy. Protein sources can include low-fat cheese, poultry, fish, red meat, tofu, and eggs. Your vegetables can include broccoli, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, green beans, peppers, asparagus, celery, and more.
Since this diet does pretty much cut out a major food group, the authors recommend taking vitamins and potassium supplements to make sure you’re not missing anything in your diet. The Protein Power diet could be a good fit for you, depending on your level of health and where you want to go.
Another diet that’s high in protein is the Paleo diet. This diet gets its name from the goal: eat like a paleolithic human would eat. The Paleolithic era was at the beginning of the stone age, and since people only had stone tools to work with, you can just imagine how restrictive their diets work.
The point of the paleo diet is to go back to that time. Their proponents argue that you can avoid many “modern ailments” by restricting your diet to what early hunter-gatherers ate. Whether that’s true will depend on further research (it’s pretty lacking right now). But what is true is if you use the paleo diet and maintain a calorie deficit, you can lose weight.
The important part is to maintain a calorie deficit. If you start ordering protein-heavy items at restaurants, they most-likely will be fat-heavy as well, and that can send you over your daily calorie goal. The paleo diet can also be a little expensive, since meats and produce take up most of your shopping list.
Losing weight on Paleo
So what can you eat on the diet? Well, just think of yourself living in the stone age. You don’t know how to milk cows, and the extent of your culinary expertise is roasting something over a fire. You can’t eat any grains, and the modern paleo diet also restricts legumes. You can eat nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables like greens, peppers, and broccoli. Your main calories come from meat, and these can be fish, lamb, shrimp, chicken, pork, and others. Will you lose weight on the paleo diet? Again, that depends on you keeping a calorie deficit (eating less than you burn) and maintaining a regular exercise program.
The paleo diet doesn’t require you to purchase anything in particular. But you might want to get on a meal subscription service to make sure you’re not going over your calories every day. Programs like Home Chef often have a paleo option, and you can choose the meals that fit into your calorie requirements.
The protein triple-advantage
Studies have shown that protein has the ability to make you feel fuller for longer, suppress your appetite, and increase your metabolism more than eating carbs does.
When you eat food, your metabolism rises to get your digestive system working. When you eat carbohydrates, your metabolism only raises 10% to 15%. But when you eat protein, your metabolism can rise as much as 35%. This means that hours after eating, you’re still burning calories. And this is great for weight loss. Protein also suppresses your appetite. What it does is reduce the amount of a certain “hunger hormone” in your stomach. The hormone is called ghrelin and with less of it, you won’t be craving food as much.
The third advantage to protein in a diet for weight loss is that it can make you feel fuller for longer. We all know that hunger can be a diet-killer. You stick to your diet in the morning, make it through lunch, and even have a balanced dinner. But then extra work keeps you up later than normal, and you reach for a twinkie to satiate yourself. If you’d had enough protein at dinner, this could have been avoided.
The hormone that makes you feel full is called GLP-1, and protein is known to increase the amount of GLP-1 in your system. This helps you to feel full for a longer period, and to avoid diet-killing snacks late at night.
Atkins for high protein
Another diet high in protein is the Atkins diet. Ont his diet, you are given an extremely limited amount of carbs that you can eat, even down to 20 grams per day. Your main sustenance comes from proteins, and these can be lean or non-lean. For the Atkins diet, you’re supposed to eat one 4-6 ounce piece of protein per meal. That could be some scrambled eggs, a piece of fish, or even steak.
The nice thing about the Atkins diet is that you don’t have to pay a membership fee or pay for meal delivery. You might end up spending a little more on regular groceries, though, since you’re switching in more protein for carbs. Following this diet will help you to spread the protein you eat throughout the day. It’s more beneficial if you can eat an equal amount of protein per meal, rather than eating all your protein at dinner time.
Meal replacement shakes for quick protein
Meal replacement shakes are a great way to make sure you’re getting enough protein on the go. Atkins makes some shakes as do many other brands. The main thing to consider is if your diet is allowing for dairy, or if you need to take a non-dairy protein supplement. But many of today’s protein shakes, even with whey, are lactose-free.
If you’re on a diet that consists mainly of meal-replacement shakes, make sure to spread your calories evenly through the day. You’ve probably been used to eating three meals a day, but you’ll want to have a shake at least every two hours. Liquid food, even if it’s full of protein, gets digested quickly and doesn’t have the same effect on hunger hormones that solid food does. Spacing your shakes out like this can help you stay fuller between meals and not go off your diet.
Here’s a quick template you can use to plan your meals from. Try to have one protein source, one fat source, and one low carb vegetable source at each meal. When on this type of diet, you almost can’t eat too much protein. The metabolism boosting benefits of protein can translate into an extra 80 to 100 calories burned per day—that’s a lot! Just remember not to eat an extra cookie to compensate for this.
The hunger and appetite-related benefits of protein are also huge. Just by staying fuller longer and being less hungry, you can be satisfied with less. About 400 calories less, in fact, than if you were eating a carb-rich diet. High protein diets for weight loss can be ideal, the main thing is to stick with it and see for yourself.