How Much Protein Should I Eat Daily For Weight Loss?

February 5th, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

Decades of scientific research on weight loss have uncovered a few key pieces of information on what helps people successfully win the battle of the bulge.

  • First, we know that while exercise is important, a person’s healthy eating habits likely matters more for weight loss than the hours they spend in the gym.
  • Second, when it comes to dieting, there is no single best one for losing weight; many diets can work quite well as long as total calorie balance is accounted for.
  • Third, dietary protein is one of the key “levers” in a diet that increases the likelihood of someone’s ability to lose weight.

This article is going to cut through a lot of the noise surrounding protein and tell you how much protein you should be eating to lose weight and some of the things you should consider when planning your diet.

WHAT IS PROTEIN?
Protein is an important macronutrient that is involved in nearly all bodily functions and processes. It plays a key role in exercise recovery and is an essential dietary nutrient for healthy living. Protein and amino acids are primarily used to create bodily tissues, form enzymes, and cellular transporters, maintain fluid balance, and more.

HOW MUCH PROTEIN PER DAY TO LOSE WEIGHT?
If you want to lose weight, aim for a daily protein intake between .73 and 1 grams per pound. Athletes and heavy exercisers should consume 1-1.5 grams per pound if aiming for weight loss.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PROTEIN IN WEIGHT LOSS?
Dietary protein can be an important part of a diet that is intended for weight loss. While there are many benefits to dietary protein, there are four main areas that have direct effects on weight loss:

  • Satiety
  • Lean mass
  • Thermic effect of food
  • Storage as body fat

Let us take a deeper dive into each of these topics.

PROTEIN HELPS YOU FEEL FULL LONGER
One of the biggest things that impede weight loss is hunger.

People are far less likely to stick with a nutrition or diet plan if they experience high levels of hunger.

Protein is the most satiating of all the macronutrients.

Several different lines of research have all pointed to the same thing: higher protein intakes tend to provide more satiety and less hunger.

For example, in one study, high protein snacks allowed people to go longer between eating and also caused them to eat less at subsequent meals.

Another study showed that including protein into a glass of water decreased hunger compared to water alone.

Depending on the source of protein, there does appear to be minor differences in the exact amount of satiety that protein provides, however these differences are minor and don’t really make a meaningful impact for most people.

Currently, there is no consensus on the optimal level of daily protein intake in one’s diet with regard to staying full. However, roughly .82-1.32 grams of protein per pound appear to provide substantial benefit on satiety.

PROTEIN PRESERVES LEAN BODY MASS
In addition, protein has another benefit on weight loss: it helps preserve lean body mass during periods of caloric restriction.

One study compared the effect of low protein intake (1.0 grams per kilogram per day) to high protein intake (2.3 g/kg per day) on lean body mass over a short term caloric deficit. On average, the low protein group lost about 1.6 kilograms (3.5 pounds) of muscle mass while the high protein group only lost 0.3 kg (0.66 pounds) of muscle mass.

Currently, most evidence suggests that .73 grams of protein per pound are a recommended daily target for protein intake to spare lean body mass loss during periods of weight loss.

PROTEIN INCREASES THE THERMIC EFFECT OF FOOD
The thermic effect of food is the “cost” of digesting your food.

Essentially, it takes some energy to break food down, digest it, and turn it into energy. Protein has the highest “cost” of all three macronutrients.

While the total effect that the thermic effect of food has on daily energy expenditure and weight loss is small, it is not meaningless and is important to note.

In one study, a high protein diet increased the thermic effect of food by roughly 6-8 kcals per hour when compared to a low protein diet, which may translate to ~50-75 calories per day.

However, not all studies show this large of an effect, and the thermic effect of protein is not likely responsible for most of its benefit, but it may be the “cherry on top” of adequate dietary protein during weight loss.

PROTEIN IS HARD TO STORE AS BODY FAT
During periods of weight loss, there are often times where more energy is consumed than expended. As such, minimizing how much of that excess energy (i.e. calories) is stored as fat is important.

The body processes the three different macronutrients (i.e. proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) in very different ways.

Leaving out a lot of jargon and mumbo jumbo, in order for protein to be stored as fat, it goes through a much different biochemical process than either carbohydrates or fats.

This process makes it much harder for protein to store as body fat.

One study found that protein is stored as body fat with roughly 66% efficiency, while carbohydrates store with 80% efficiency and fats store at 96% efficiency.

During weight loss, overeating protein results in much less stored body fat than overeating on carbohydrates or fat.

While many different diets can be successful for weight loss, the protein content of a diet is one of the important factors to consider when planning a diet. Protein has been shown to promote satiety, help maintain lean body mass, increase the thermic effect of food slightly, and can reduce how efficient the body is at storing extra calories as body fat.

Courtesy of NASM.org


Slow-Cooker Stuffed Taco Peppers

May 15th, 2019 by Debbie Martilotta

Ingredients

  • 6 small red bell peppers
  • 1 cup cauliflower rice
  • 1 pound organic ground turkey
  • 1 cup organic shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup water

Directions

1. Cut off the stems from the peppers.
2. Scoop out the seeds on the inside, leaving a hollow shell.
3. In a bowl, mix the ground turkey and spices.
4. Stir in the cauliflower and coconut oil in the bowl.
5. Mix in the Monterey jack cheese in the bowl.
6. Scoop up some of the turkey mixture and pack it into each pepper shell.
7. Place each stuffed pepper into a Crock-Pot and pour a cup of water into the bottom.
8. Cook on high for four hours or low for eight hours. Top with a little extra cheese 10 minutes before they are done.

Serves 6


Seafood Paella with Cauliflower Rice & Sofrito

September 18th, 2018 by Debbie Martilotta

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons macadamia nut oil
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, about 2 cups, medium dice
  • 1 large yellow onion, about 2 cups, medium dice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon saffron
  • 1 large head cauliflower, about 4 cups, grated
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1 lb large scallops
  • 1 1/2 lb salmon filet cut into 1-2″ cubes
  • 1/2 lb mussels
  • 1 bunch cilantro (about 1 cup, chopped)
  • 1 bunch green onions (about 1 cup, chopped)
  • 2 lemons cut into quarters
  • 2 limes cut into quarters

Directions

Step 1: Heat a large sauté pan or paella pan on high heat. Add the oil, yellow bell pepper, and yellow onion and allow to cook until golden and tender.
Step 2: Add garlic to the pan, stir, and cook 2-3 minutes.
Step 3: Add diced tomatoes and cook another 2-3 minutes. While this is cooking, add in smoked paprika, coriander, ancho chile, cumin, turmeric, and saffron.
Stir and allow spices to toast briefly for 2 minutes. Quickly stir in ¼ cup water. This will create your Sofrito.
Step 4: Add grated cauliflower to pan and stir. Allow to cook about 3 minutes. Add in peas and stir. Turn the heat down to medium.
Step 5: Evenly spread the shrimp, scallops, salmon, and mussels on top of the cauliflower and Sofrito. Cover with a lid and allow to cook about 5 minutes. Be sure shrimp is cooked through and is pink.
Step 6: Garnish the top with chopped cilantro and green onions. Serve with lemon and lime wedges on the side.

Serves: 8, ready in: 30 minutes
Nutritional Analysis per serving: calories 325, carbs 17g, fat 14g, protein 44g, sodium 204mg, sugar 4g

by MARK HYMAN, MD


Not all Calories are Created Equal

March 6th, 2018 by Debbie Martilotta

Calories are not the issue…where those calories come from IS!

For years we’ve been told that “a calorie is a calorie”. NOT SO! Eat lean protein (grass-fed, free-range, organic, wild-caught), good fat and complex carbs (from veggies) and you won’t have to worry about calories!

People who ate plenty of vegetables and whole foods lost significant amounts of weight over the course of the year without restricting the quantity of food that they consumed, according to a new study published in JAMA on Tuesday.

The study, led by Christopher D. Gardner, the director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, looked at 600 people who were split into two diet groups. One group ate low-carb food and the other followed a low-fat diet, The New York Times reports.

The original goal of the study was to compare how overweight and obese people handled each diet, but both groups were encouraged to choose better quality food over processed options. At the end of the year, both groups had lost a good deal of weight. The low-carb participants lost an average of 13 pounds, while the low-fat group lost an average of 11.7 pounds. Both groups also saw improvement in other health factors such as blood pressure and body fat.

The study suggests that health professionals should encourage people to avoid processed foods that have refined starches and added sugars such as white bread, bagels, and sugary snacks and instead focus on eating more high-quality food.

Researchers say that it’s not that calories don’t matter. Participants in both groups were eating less by the end of the study, but that calories shouldn’t be the main focus when it comes to weight loss.


Zucchini Enchiladas

February 19th, 2018 by Debbie Martilotta

Amp up your veggie intake by using thin slices of Zucchini instead of tortillas to wrap your enchiladas.

  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 3 c. Shredded chicken
  • 1 1/3 c. red enchilada sauce, divided
  • 4 large zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 1 c. Shredded Monterey Jack
  • 1 c. shredded Cheddar
  • Sour cream, for drizzling
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and season with salt. Cook until soft, 5 minutes, then add garlic, cumin and chili powder and stir until combined. Add shredded chicken and 1 cup enchilada sauce and stir until saucy.
  2. On a cutting board, use a Y-shaped vegetable peeler to make thin slices of zucchini. Lay out three, slightly overlapping, and place a spoonful of chicken mixture on top. Roll up and transfer to a baking dish. Repeat with remaining zucchini and chicken mixture.
  3. Spoon remaining 1/3 cup enchilada sauce over zucchini enchiladas and sprinkle with both cheeses.
  4. Bake until melty, 20 minutes.
  5. Garnish with sour cream and cilantro and serve.