If you're looking to lose weight, incorporating more protein into your diet can make the process easier and more effective. The body needs protein to build and repair tissues. For people who don't diet but engage in regular exercise, daily protein requirements are estimated to be 0.5 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight. If you are dieting, it's generally recommended to increase your daily protein intake to 1 gram per pound of body weight.
Why is it important to increase protein intake while dieting?
When you go on a diet, increasing your protein intake can help preserve muscle mass. Eating fewer calories can trigger your body to think it might experience hunger in the future, causing it to store fat as insurance and break down your muscles for energy. This is one of the main reasons why people tend to gain weight easily after a diet, as they have less muscle to burn calories.
Protein-rich foods tend to be low in calories , filling and not feel hungry any longer. Protein-rich foods also burn up to 20% more calories during digestion and help your body remove excess water - do feel slimmer in a matter of days.
Proteins to avoid
If you want to increase your protein intake, be sure to look for low-calorie sources that are lean, primarily low-fat, and not high in calories. Avoid fatty meats, cheeses, nuts (which are mostly fat), and excessive amounts of beans.
Here's a list of the best protein-rich foods for weight loss:
Fish/seafood - including bass, cod, tuna, flounder, haddock, halibut, orange roughy, perch, tilapia, shrimp, snapper. For example, a 4 oz serving of tuna has only 120 calories and 26 grams of protein, while salmon has 206 calories and 28.8 grams of protein in a 4 oz serving. Salmon is higher in calories than tuna due to its higher fat content (9.2 grams compared to 1 gram in tuna).
Meat / Eggs - buffalo chicken breast , egg whites , moose , extra lean ground turkey , 95 % lean ground beef , ostrich , turkey breast . 4 oz extra lean ground turkey contains 120 calories and 28 grams of protein. The egg whites are also an excellent source of protein, low in calories - you can eat 6 egg whites and eat only 102 calories and 21 grams of protein compared to 75 calories and 6.3 grams of protein one whole egg .
Dairy - Whey protein , fat Greek yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese . Look for formulas containing whey protein 100 calories 20 grams of protein. Anything higher in calories is not necessarily the best for you and most likely is full of sugar , fat and additives - ingredients diet sabotage.
Related: How to Make a High Protein Breakfast
What about vegetarians?
Before there were vegan protein powders available, most vegans would eat foods like beans and soy products. Although these foods are healthy, beans, lentils, and soy products are relatively high in calories compared to protein, which can make it challenging to consume fewer calories. Today, it's easy to find low-calorie, high-protein vegan protein powders in most health food stores, specifically look for hemp or rice protein.