Should I eat a lot more protein to lose body fat?
The body burns more calories digesting protein than fat or carbs, because it takes more work to break it down, but how much protein a person should eat depends on their activity level, age, and if they have kidney disease. More protein means more calories, and we’ve been told that in order to lose weight, we need to eat fewer calories, so then what?
You do want to keep the amount of calories in check if you want to lose weight, and protein calories can really add up fast, so when adding protein to your diet, chose lean protein, and cut down on other fats and carbohydrates.
But then there’s the matter of how much protein, and is more really better? The RDA is only .8% per kg of bodyweight, which is like one serving of steak or fish at a restaurant, but that’s a minimum requirement for health, so most people need more than that, but most people eat MUCH more than that.
A small study with 39 people showed that twice the amount RDA of protein resulted in fat loss, but three times the RDA, did not result in body fat reduction. So more lean protein, but not an excessive amount of protein, on a calorie deficit diet, in addition to exercise, will result in more fat loss, according to this study (1).
If you’re worried about eating too much protein, the good thing is that a healthy person’s body naturally gets rid of the excess protein, which means, it’s not stored as protein, but gets converted to fat if you don’t burn it off. In other words, it’s not toxic if you eat more than can be absorbed. Because protein is not stored, you should eat smaller portions of protein with each meal, or snack, frequently throughout the day.
You can use this on-line calculator to determine the range of protein for you: http://www.calculator.net/protein-calculator.html
- Source: Mohr, Dr. Kara. (2017) “Can you really lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously?” [blog post]. Girls Gone Strong. Retrieved from: https://www.girlsgonestrong.com/blog/fat-loss/can-you-lose-fat-and-gain-muscle-simultaneously/
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