Many people underestimate that what you eat is just as important as how much you consume when it comes to losing weight. While you will lose weight with a restrictive caloric intake, you are more likely to be successful in losing and maintaining weight loss if you eat certain foods over others. Additionally, while you may see the numbers on the scale going down with a restricted calorie intake, you might not see a flat tummy if your diet doesn’t include the right foods.
What’s the best nutrient to include in your diet to both reduce your weight and your belly fat? A common finding is that protein is such a key ingredient in weight loss that most people are more successful with its inclusion in daily consumption.
Benefits of a high protein diet
Why is it that you should include protein? It’s part of the big three macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrate) so it’s kind of a big deal. According to Samantha Heller, M.S., R.D.N, “protein contributes to satiety and satisfaction, and it does slow the rise in blood sugar.”
Intake of protein increases levels of the appetite-reducing hormones GLP-1, peptide YY, and cholecystokinin, while reducing your levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, according to the website Healthline. In other words, protein helps you feel satisfied and helps you eat fewer calories as a result.
The right foods make it easy to lose weight. Foods high in protein, like chicken or nuts, have a high thermic rate. This means that protein boosts metabolism and actually helps burn an average of 80-100 more calories during the day than other foods, according to Healthline. Even when you’re sleeping, you’ll naturally burn more calories when you’ve eaten enough protein.
According to Healthline, in one study, a modest increase in protein intake (from 15 to 18% of calories) reduced weight regain after weight loss by 50%. Additionally, since losing weight often includes muscle mass loss, eating a high protein diet prevents muscle loss by keeping your metabolic rate higher.
Foods with protein
However, as moderation is also important, eating too much protein won’t do you any favors. In fact, the body can only utilize about 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal, so distributing your protein in different meals throughout the day can more effectively maximize your intake of protein. You can obtain protein in many different foods, even with allergy and food sensitivity limitations. As mentioned, chicken is a great low-calorie form of obtaining the nutrient. However, if you’re not an omnivore, plant-based proteins are ubiquitous, such as nuts, lentils, seeds, chickpeas, and black beans. Aiming for protein to account for 30 percent of calories is an optimal goal that should be implemented in any diet plan.