Proteins have been identified as one of the building blocks of body tissues. They are an important component of every cell in the body. The body uses proteins to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Proteins are essential to good health.
Embedded in the many benefits of protein, is a one-way ticket to weight loss. While many acknowledge that proteins play a vital role in chief body building functions, few, however, recognise the other amazing combo-abilities of this power macronutrient, especially as it pertains to the treatment of obesity and weight management.
Experts nevertheless insist that proteins serve as the perfect catalyst for weight loss.
Weight loss is a reduction in total body weight which could be as a result of a significant loss in body fat, muscle mass, fluid or adipose tissue. Recent evidence supports high protein diets for improvements in body weight. These improvements are thought to be partly as a result of modulations in energy metabolism, appetite, hormone control and energy intake.
The effectiveness of protein in treating obesity is largely dependent on the degree of consumption. The level of protein consumption required to cause an exponential decrease in body weight varies by body size. On the average, the recommended dietary intake for protein is 0.8grams per 1kilogram of body weight. Which means a person who weighs 50kg would require 40 grams (50 x 0.8) of protein daily. Also, the FDA recommends that adults consume 50 grams of protein to cover part of a 2000-calorie diet.
Other factors such as age, gender, activity level, status, also play a huge role in determining exact protein intake levels. This is in addition to the quality of protein and the digestibility of individual amino acids present in specific protein foods.
Essentially, a common endorsement gives 1.5 – 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for obese and high-activity athletes.
Here three highly effective ways proteins aid weight loss:
- Increases Satiety
Weight gain as we know it, is a direct consequence of increased hunger levels. A high intake of Protein decreases the action of the hunger hormone called ghrelin and improves the secretion of cholecystokinin. Cholecystokinin is a peptide hormone that is found in the brain and gastrointestinal tract. The cholecystokinin hormone significantly inhibits gastric emptying. Enhanced gastric emptying reduces the satiating effect of food consequently promoting obesity. When dietary protein is ingested and especially hydrolyzed into amino acids, it stimulates the release of the cholecystokinin hormone which spontaneously improves satiety and reduces the action of ghrelin. In summary, ingesting protein in healthy amounts helps slows down your food cravings and keeps you feeling full.
- Improved Energy Expenditure (Thermic Effect of Food)
In the nutrient processing cycle, energy is expended in digesting, absorbing and disposing ingested nutrient. Averagely, humans use about 10 per cent of energy expenditure in this process. However, this percentage could be altered depending on the type of food consumed. A generous amount of research has proven that protein requires the most energy to digest going 20-30 per cent. This is called the thermic effect of food. This means that consuming more proteins automatically burns more calories effortlessly and consequently tips the balance in the number of calories ingested and the number of calories burned. Essentially, the more calories you burn, the more weight you lose.
- Enhances Metabolism and Preserves Lean Mass
The thermic effect of food causes a spontaneous increase in metabolism levels, which is a very important parameter for weight loss. Research maintains that eating proteins increase the number of calories you burn by increasing your rate of metabolism. You burn up to 80-100 calories a day if your daily meal comprises 30 per cent calories from protein. Protein also helps to preserve lean body mass or fat-free mass. Lean body mass is obtained by subtracting the weight of body fat from total body weight. An ideal lean body mass is essential for the proper functioning of the body. Essentially your body should have more muscle than fat. Consuming high protein diets translates to greater lean body mass and lesser body fat.
In summary, Protein is king especially in the area of weight loss and weight management. An intake of 30 per cent of calories from protein is optimal for weight loss. This means 150 grams of protein for a 2000-calorie diet. The quality of protein ingested is also a huge factor to consider when choosing protein sources. It has been proven that the best quality of protein is gotten from plant sources. Soy is a great place to start in your protein incorporation as it has the best quality of protein. Other great sources are lentils, beans, edamame, whey, and lot’s more.
Judith Igwe, Nutritionist and aspiring Public Relations Executive, Wrote from Lagos.