Protein and Fat Loss
What Does Protein Do?
In terms of the overall health and function of the human body, protein is essential for building and repairing things. Your organs, muscles, skin, hair, nails, bones and certain hormones are all made up of some amount of protein. It’s an absolute requirement for sustaining life and proper function of the human body.
It doesn’t matter if you want to lose fat, build muscle, or just be a healthy, well-functioning human being… Your daily protein intake plays an equally crucial role in allowing all of those things happen properly. As you start to get hyped up for this nutrition challenge, one of the most important players in the game is going to be protein.
(You should probably read that paragraph again)
So, basically… You kinda absolutely necessary to get enough of it on a daily basis to actually live and be healthy.
Like I said, it’s important.
But if you’re reading this, you’re probably less interested in protein’s role in your overall health and much more interested in how it will help you lose fat, build muscle, and generally get your body to look and perform as you wish.
(I’m tracking, I hear ya’)
So, let’s take a quick look at why it’s such an important part of reaching your diet’s goal.
How Does Protein Help With Losing Fat?
While a caloric deficit is the only absolute requirement for fat to be lost, protein still plays many extremely important roles in the fat loss process. The 3 most notable are:
1. Maintaining Muscle
As I’ve previously explained, losing fat requires a caloric deficit. Why? Because when a caloric deficit is created, your body will be forced to burn your own stored body fat as an alternative source of energy. The thing is, your body could just as easily decide to burn your muscle tissue (or some combination of both fat and muscle) instead.
As you can probably guess, that would be a bad thing. Your goal is to get your body to burn nothing but fat and leave all of your pretty muscle alone.
Well, it turns out that eating a sufficient amount of protein on a daily basis is “THE KEY” dietary factor in getting your body to preserve your muscle and burn fat instead. Yes, it’s probably even more important than the size of the caloric deficit itself.
So, if your goal is to lose fat and NOT lose any muscle in the process, getting your daily protein intake right is pretty damn important.
2. Keeping You Full
A second major role protein plays in fat loss is one of satiation. Of all the macronutrients that we get our calories from (protein, fat, carbs), research clearly shows that protein is by far and away the most fillingof them all.
This makes it a huge key factor in controlling your hunger, curbing your appetite, and keeping you full and satisfied.
As you can imagine, these are all things you definitely want working in your favor when trying to lose fat, and a sufficient daily protein intake will help make that happen.
3. Burning Calories
A third major role protein plays in losing fat revolves around its thermogenic properties. Because, in addition to being the most filling macronutrient, protein is also the one with the largest thermic effect.
(Now let me explain that in English)
You see, when all foods gets digested, your body actually burns calories during that digestion process. This is referred to as the “Thermogenic Effect Of Food”, and it’s one of those factors I mentioned earlier that influence what your daily calorie maintenance level is.
The thing is, different foods have different thermic effects, which means some foods will actually cause MORE calories to be burned during digestion than others. What all research shows is that protein requires the most amount of calories to digest, which means eating more protein on a daily basis will actually lead to more calories naturally being burned by your body.
(Pretty sweet, huh)
Of course, just increasing your daily protein intake alone won’t create enough of an extra calorie burn to cause significant and sustained fat loss. HOWEVER, it will most definitely help.
How Does Protein Help With Building Muscle?
Unlike losing fat, where the only absolute requirement is a caloric deficit (protein is just an extremelyimportant part of the process), building muscle actually has two dietary requirements. The first of course is a caloric surplus.
The second? Eating a sufficient amount of protein on a daily basis.
1. The “Building Block” Of Muscle
It’s a line you come across over and over again in articles about how to build muscle, but it’s true enough to keep repeating. Protein is the “building block” of muscle. Without enough of it, your body just can NOT (and will not) build muscle.
So, if your goal is to build any amount of muscle, increase strength or improve performance in virtually any capacity, a sufficient protein intake is more than just an important part of the process. It’s a flat out requirement.
2. So, How Much Protein Should I Eat Per Day?
Now that you fully understand what protein does and why your daily protein intake plays such an important role in losing fat, building muscle, and just being healthy, you’re probably wondering how much of it you should eat per day.
(That’s a good question. Let’s answer it)
Surprisingly, the most common recommendations for how much protein you should eat per day when you’re trying to improve your body don’t typically vary by too much and instead tend to fall within a similar range.
For most of the people, most of the time, that recommended range is:
Ideal Daily Protein Intake: 0.8-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
Of course, that range is a bit broad. But have no fear, that’s why we’ve already calculated this for you! Based on your current bodyweight, training preferences, and fitness goals we’ve taking the guess work out of things and built your protein requirement to meet those needs.
Eat up 🙂
See you tomorrow,
Riley Phelps, MS CSCS