Eating protein can aid weight loss because it produces a high thermic effect. Protein burns more calories than fats during the digestive process.
When you eat, a certain amount of calories are burned simply by the energy required to digest, absorb, transport, and store the food. This is called the thermic effect of food, or thermogenesis. To process protein requires a 30 percent expenditure of energy—the highest of all macronutrients.
If you were to eat 100 calories worth of protein, 30 calories would be used by the digestive process alone leaving only 70 calories for your body to contend with. This thermic effect is a major reason why diets that are rich in protein trump high-carbohydrate or high-fat diets when it comes to fat loss.
The body uses only a 2 to 3 percent energy expenditure to digest fats. Coupled with this low level of thermogenesis, a gram of fat contains more than twice the calories of a gram of protein.
Research studies have shown that a high-protein diet results in increased thermogenesis and an increased sense of satiety (a feeling of fullness).
Natural weight loss strategy
The fat-fighting benefits of protein do not end with calorie burning and satiety. Consuming protein stimulates the release of natural weight loss hormones. Researchers at the University College in London concluded that eating protein triggers the release of a hormone called peptide YY (PYY) which helps to regulate hunger.
Protein is also essential for the building and maintenance of your body’s greatest metabolic asset—your muscles. Muscles, in turn, play a major role in protein metabolism.
A University of Texas study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2006), reported that for every 10 kg (22 lb) difference in lean body mass, our bodies expend an extra 100 calories per day.
Source your protein
Not all proteins are created equal. Protein sources differ in their amino acid composition. Rotate your protein foods by choosing from a variety of animal and vegan sources to ensure you receive the full range of amino acids your body needs.
Good vegan sources of protein include pea, cranberry, alfalfa, brown rice, and hemp. These can be obtained in protein supplements, either individually or from a formula that includes all five of these proteins. Choose a protein supplement that is high in alpha-lactalbumin (an important whey protein), mixes easily, and features enzymes for optimal absorption.
By rotating your protein sources, you will ensure your body receives all of the amino acids necessary for optimal health. You will also reduce the chance of developing a protein allergy and will take advantage of protein’s thermic effect.