Adding extra protein into your diet is the easiest way to lose fat, add lean muscle and simply make you healthier.
It’s a no brainer and a super simple lifestyle/dietary change you should be maximizing.
The extra amino acids from protein will not only help build muscle but research has shown it can double fat loss and improve metabolic health compared to a normal, lower protein diet.
Chances are, you’re consuming enough protein for survival but NOT consuming enough protein to thrive, lose body fat, add lean muscle or feel awesome!
In this article, I’ll discuss some of the major reasons why you should be increasing the amount of protein you consume on a daily basis and all the amazing benefits you will get from a higher protein diet.
More Protein Can Help Increase Lean Muscle Mass & Tone
The most obvious on this list – increasing your protein intake can help you increase your muscle mass or lean muscle tone (1, 2, 3, 4).
When most people think of protein, they automatically associate the term with muscle. While that’s certainly the case, the body has many other components that are made of proteins, which require amino acids from food to be created and function in a healthy and efficient manner.
Unfortunately, increasing muscle mass is one of the last things on the list in terms of necessity in the human body.
By increasing your protein intake, you allow the body to have excess amino acids for the necessary components in the body while having enough left over to begin increasing components in the muscle that make them bigger and stronger.
In other words, your body is like a super strict accountant with a tight financial budget. It’s not going to spend any money (amino acids) on adding muscle when you only have a normal intake. But, become a millionaire (or consume a high protein diet) and it’ll have the excess to go all out and use the extra to grow muscle.
If you aren’t consuming a high protein diet you simply won’t be maximizing your muscle growth or results at the gym and potentially wasting a lot of time.
If you put in the hard work at the gym then you would be crazy not to take in more protein and maximize all that hard work and time commitment, right?
Protein Can Help Reduce Appetite & Improve Long-term Adherence
In addition to its muscle building properties, increasing protein intake can significantly reduce your appetite after consumption and aid in long-term weight loss or adherence (5).
Interestingly, the 3-dimensional structures of proteins actually make them quite difficult to digest. Because of this difficulty with breakdown, the speed at which the amino acids exit the stomach is actually slowed down, keeping you fuller for longer.
What’s more, because of this delay, cells in the stomach that secrete the hunger hormone called ghrelin (the key hunger hormone) are actually inhibited from releasing the hormone which makes you hungry again.
When food is present in the stomach, these cells are stretched and don’t release ghrelin which helps reduce hunger pangs. Since protein takes longer to digest, these cells remain stretched for much longer periods of time, reducing feelings of hunger(6).
Additionally, other studies have indicated that protein intake increases secretion of a peptide called Peptide YY. This peptide hormone is largely responsible for reducing hunger and appetite in the brain (7).
As I often say, reducing hunger and increasing satiety are absolutely vital for long-term dietary adherence and sustainability. Constant hunger is a common reason people quit their diet or binge eat and this is where increasing the amount of protein you consume can really help.
Protein Can Increase Your Metabolism & Burn Body Fat
A major determinant of losing weight is how high your metabolic rate is. The higher it is, the greater the ability for your body to burn fat and improve diet flexibility.
(Do known that enviable person who can eat what they like and not store fat? Well, they likely have a rapid metabolism).
Interestingly, more protein is one of the best ways to actually increase your metabolic rate, allowing you to burn body fat (8).
This is largely due to something called the thermic effect of food. When you consume food of any type, breaking down and digesting this food actually requires energy from the body. The more difficult it is to digest, the higher the energy expenditure.
Now for the interesting part: Protein actually increases this energy expenditure to a much greater extent than that of fat or carbohydrates. Per 100 calories, fat and carbs will only lose around 5-12 calories per 100 calories. However, protein will burn around 300 – 400% the amount during digestion, burning around 25 calories per 100 calories consumed (9).
Therefore, by increasing the amount of calories per day coming from protein you will actually expend more energy just during digestion/metabolism and, of course, get all the other benefits described in this blog…
Protein Can Help Reduce Muscle Loss With Age
As we age the body begins to go through a process called sarcopenia where we continually lose muscle (10).
When this process occurs, it can result in a loss of strength, loss of muscle function, increased risk of bone fractures and have a negative impact on your body composition.
Luckily, increasing your protein intake can actually help reduce this process, ensuring that you have adequate muscle going into old age (11).
A major determinant of muscle growth or maintenance is something called protein turnover. Throughout the day there is a constant breakdown and buildup of proteins. Only when the buildup surpasses breakdown will you see muscle growth.
During times of old age and sarcopenia, the breakdown of muscle far surpasses that of growth, leading to atrophy and muscle loss.
However, studies indicate that increasing protein intake, especially later in life, can help reduce the amount of protein turnover or breakdown. This has a positive impact and reduces sarcopenia, which in turn will help reduce muscle loss and can potentially help to improve quality of life (11, 12).
Protein Can Help Prevent Bone Loss
On the female side of things, post menopause there is an increased risk of bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
Luckily, research has shown that increasing protein intake actually helps prevent the risk of these diseases and potential risks of fractures as a result (13, 14, 15).
In fact, research has revealed that women with the lowest protein intakes are at an increased risk of events such as hip fractures, even up to 70% greater than for those with the higher intakes! (16)
It seems that increasing protein intake, especially for older women, may help the body absorb more calcium which, in turn, can help improve bone growth, strength and overall health (17).
Extra Protein Helps You Lose Weight
Last but not least, extra protein can help you lose weight.
As you’ve seen above, protein can both boost your metabolism and also reduce overall hunger and key hunger / weight controlling hormones such as ghrelin.
Over 100 studies have shown that weight loss can be boosted simply by increasing your intake of protein over carbs and fat, the other 2 macronutrients.
In some cases, weight loss is enhanced by 200 or even 300% when following a high protein diet.
There are few things that everyone unanimously agrees on, protein being one of those few. If you ask any other expert or world-renowned weight loss specialist, they will all agree that extra protein is vital for fat loss.
Recently new studies have even shown that a super high protein intake can aid in fat loss or lean muscle growth, even when people consume excess calories. This is because protein is virtually impossible to be converted to fat, due to its metabolic and structural nature.
6 Ways Extra Protein Can Shred Fat & Improve Health
Increasing protein intake is one of the few key laws of weight loss, performance of health-related nutrition.
Interestingly, there are numerous reasons to eat more protein ranging from improved muscle mass, reduced appetite, improved metabolic health and even reduced risk of bone disease.
This means basically everyone can benefit from more protein, from children to athletes, to those with obesity or even the elderly.
If you are still unsure, just check out the results from members who are using my 90 Day Bikini plan which includes high protein advanced fat loss diets:
- Tieland, M., Dirks, M. L., van der Zwaluw, N., Verdijk, L. B., van de Rest, O., de Groot, L. C., & van Loon, L. J. (2012). Protein supplementation increases muscle mass gain during prolonged resistance-type exercise training in frail elderly people: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 13(8), 713-719.
- Lemon, P. W., Tarnopolsky, M. A., MacDougall, J. D., & Atkinson, S. A. (1992). Protein requirements and muscle mass/strength changes during intensive training in novice bodybuilders. Journal of Applied Physiology, 73(2), 767-775.
- Baar, K., & Esser, K. (1999). Phosphorylation of p70 S6k correlates with increased skeletal muscle mass following resistance exercise. American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology, 276(1), C120-C127.
- Tang, J. E., Moore, D. R., Kujbida, G. W., Tarnopolsky, M. A., & Phillips, S. M. (2009). Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men. Journal of applied physiology, 107(3), 987-992.
- Veldhorst, M., Smeets, A. J. P. G., Soenen, S., Hochstenbach-Waelen, A., Hursel, R., Diepvens, K., … & Westerterp-Plantenga, M. (2008). Protein-induced satiety: effects and mechanisms of different proteins. Physiology & behavior, 94(2), 300-307.
- Sakata, I., & Sakai, T. (2010). Ghrelin cells in the gastrointestinal tract. International journal of peptides, 2010.
- Karra, E., Chandarana, K., & Batterham, R. L. (2009). The role of peptide YY in appetite regulation and obesity. The Journal of physiology, 587(1), 19-25.
- Westerterp, K. R. (2004). Diet induced thermogenesis. Nutrition & metabolism, 1(1), 5.
- Halton, T. L., & Hu, F. B. (2004). The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(5), 373-385.
- Walston, J. D. (2012). Sarcopenia in older adults. Current opinion in rheumatology, 24(6), 623.
- Paddon-Jones, D., Short, K. R., Campbell, W. W., Volpi, E., & Wolfe, R. R. (2008). Role of dietary protein in the sarcopenia of aging. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 87(5), 1562S-1566S.
- Paddon-Jones, D., & Rasmussen, B. B. (2009). Dietary protein recommendations and the prevention of sarcopenia: protein, amino acid metabolism and therapy. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 12(1), 86.
- Munger, R. G., Cerhan, J. R., & Chiu, B. C. (1999). Prospective study of dietary protein intake and risk of hip fracture in postmenopausal women. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 69(1), 147-152.
- Kerstetter, J. E., Kenny, A. M., & Insogna, K. L. (2011). Dietary protein and skeletal health: a review of recent human research. Current opinion in lipidology, 22(1), 16.
- Hannan, M. T., Tucker, K. L., Dawson‐Hughes, B., Cupples, L. A., Felson, D. T., & Kiel, D. P. (2000). Effect of dietary protein on bone loss in elderly men and women: the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 15(12), 2504-2512.
- Munger Cerhan JR, Chiu BC 1999 Prospective study of dietary protein intake and risk of hip fracture in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr 69:147–152.
- Davis, J. L. (n.d.). High-Protein Diet Could Repair Bone Loss. Retrieved June 30, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/news/20020325/high-protein-diet-could-repair-bone-loss