Most famous weight loss programs swear by protein, since it’s the least caloric nutrient and the main component of our muscles. However, the effectiveness of a protein depends on its origin. Which protein is best for weight loss?
The main appeal of protein is that it acts as an appetite suppressant. When you eat a dish that’s high in protein, you feel fuller more quickly. So you just have to eat a bit more protein each day to notice an improvement when you’re trying to lose less than 20 pounds… as long as you eliminate the sources of empty calories, of course (sweets, snacks, etc.).
The calories not used by the body are stored in the form of fat, hence the interest in only consuming the amount necessary for the proper functioning of the metabolism and not more! High-protein foods are generally less packed with calories and are therefore beneficial within the context of a weight loss program; you just have to pay attention to the fat content.
Proteins are an important part of our body (skin, hair, nails, bones, muscles, hormones, etc.), yet they aren’t produced by the body. When you neglect your protein intake over the course of a restrictive diet, therefore, you lose muscle, and the resulting hunger can become a real torture. It’s quite possible – and much healthier – to lose weight without starving yourself by eating more protein. It should be noted that hunger isn’t good for your figure, since it encourages the body to store even more fat to prevent future deficiencies.
Protein intake helps you build muscle when you exercise regularly. This process also helps burn fat faster by increasing your metabolism.
These are the proteins made up of the amino acids not produced by the body (8 amino acids out of 20) and that must therefore be provided by the diet. They’re primarily of animal origin.
Meat: The proteins are the same (in terms of quality) regardless of the type of meat. It’s mostly their content and their fat that makes the difference. Poultry is much leaner than pork.
Fish: The amount of protein is essentially equal to that in meat. However, the fat in fish is healthier (omega-3) than that in meat. Don’t overdo it on fatty fish, which is quite caloric, if you want to lose weight.
Eggs: You need 3 eggs to get the same amount of protein contained in 100 g of meat. Despite this low content, the proteins in eggs are the best because they contain all the amino acids. Egg whites are therefore an excellent source of protein for losing weight.
Soy-based products: These are the only plant proteins that contain essential amino acids. Low in fat, they’re perfect for losing weight healthily.
These are generally plant-based proteins with amino acids that can be synthesized from the 8 essential amino acids. Most sources of plant protein are incomplete – that is to say that they don’t bring together all the necessary amino acids (the amino acids found in grains aren’t the same ones found in legumes) – hence the benefit of combining them and constantly varying your diet.
In particular, we recommend focusing on whole grains (higher in fibre and therefore more beneficial for weight loss) and algae (spirulina, for example), which is a true protein concentrate (5 times as much as meat).
For those who have trouble balancing their diet, managing their appetite, gaining more muscle, or who simply can’t find the time to eat “well,” there are several types of natural protein supplements. Depending on your goal, you can choose from:
This is an anabolic (fast-digesting) protein made from whey, a cow’s milk extract that’s low in fat and lactose. It’s primarily used by athletes to gain muscle quickly. Among its advantages is the stimulation of glutathione (an antioxidant), which helps strengthen the immune system and transform fat into energy. There is no equivalence in food form; however, whey is easily assimilated by the body.
It’s available in several different forms depending on the protein content:
1/ Whey concentrate: 29 to 89% protein, and a bit higher in fat than the others (and therefore more caloric). It’s therefore not suitable for weight loss but for muscle gain.
2/ Whey isolate: at 90% protein with very little fat, it’s ideal for losing weight and building lean muscle.
3/ Whey hydrolysate: These are predigested proteins that are assimilated even faster than the others and therefore cost much more. They’re primarily aimed at high-level athletes.
This form of anti-catabolic protein (slow-digesting, which limits catabolism) is more suitable solely for losing weight – that is to say, without a goal of increasing muscle mass. Indeed, casein solicits the use of fat more and therefore burns more calories than whey. It’s ideally combined with a more restrictive diet due to its slow action (so you can’t eat as much as with whey).
Whichever protein meets your needs the best, don’t forget that you should never abuse them in the hopes of seeing faster results. In fact, the conclusions of the latest research have shown that careless protein intake increases the risk of becoming obese, not to mention health problems. Protein shouldn’t exceed 35% of your daily caloric intake (and not less than 15%). If you have to ingest 1500 calories/day, protein should represent about 500 calories, or 125 g of protein spread out over a day.