When it comes to fat loss and muscle gain protein is a fundamental to your success. Far too commonly overlooked and a food group particularly underestimated but ultimately, a real staple and a real driver for successful results.
Your body cannot use stored fat as an energy source if it doesn’t infact have the help of carbohydrates and proteins. It’s important to understand that weight loss incorporates the loss of both muscle and fat, so whilst the scales might be showing in your favour we’d encourage you to delve a little deeper into what your body is actually burning and using for energy.
An adequate daily protein intake (which can be consumed purely through food sources) is proven to fuel fat loss, whilst supporting the preservation of lean muscle.
The question; how much protein is enough protein? Despite ongoing studies the ‘perfect’ formula has yet to be set. The findings do however continue to show that the typical ‘recommended’ daily minimums for males and females simply aren’t optimal and that your weight, age and activity levels should all be taken into consideration when determining much protein you personally need.
We’d suggest starting with a baseline and manipulating your requirements upwards from there. For females 1.5g protein per kg of bodyweight and for males 2g protein per kg of bodyweight. Remember, an adequate protein intake even where the goal is ‘weight loss’ will preserve muscle mass and encourage fat loss.
Looking to further enhance your results? Protein needs directly increase after boughts of moderate to intense exercise and as such we’d strongly recommend working this into your weekly exercise routine. A high protein snack directly after a resistance-based training session is a great addition as during this period your muscle tissue is most sensitive to nutrients. Fuelling your body and refuelling your body after sessions ensures adequate and efficient repair and growth (the phase in which the magic actually happens).
Protein sources are the most satiating of the food groups, so chances are if you’re taking in adequate quantities throughout the day and topping up with protein rich snacks you’re far less likely to reach for the high-carbohydrate sugary foods that simply aren’t going to hit the spot. Pairing protein with carbohydrate-rich food sources (an example a chicken breast with some brown rice or sweet potato) slows down the absorption of sugar from your stomach into your bloodstream. The likelihood; it’s going to prevent your blood sugar from skyrocketing and keep at bay those future cravings.
If you’re an avid fitness fanatic and train frequently at a moderate to high intensity on consecutive days we’d recommend an additional supplement of protein before you go to bed to further aid your recovery.
Where can I get my protein?
Understanding where and how to source your protein is important in maximising and fulfilling your protein needs. You might be familiar with calorie counting, but it’s also important to know how to tally your protein intake. While one ounce of chicken weighs 28 grams, it contains only about 9 grams of protein. So it takes a 3-ounce portion to deliver 27 grams of protein, or about one-quarter of the average daily need.
Here’s a few examples of good protein sources and what you’re looking out for:
Eggs (1 Whole):
Whole eggs are high in protein; egg whites are almost pure protein.
Protein content: 35% of calories in a whole egg.
Almonds (1 oz/28g):
High in fibre, vitamin E, manganese and magnesium.
Protein content: 13% of calories.
Skinless Chicken Breast (1 grilled skinless chicken breast):
Protein content: 80% of calories.
Oats (Half cup raw oats):
High in fibre, magnesium, manganese, thiamin (vitamin B1).
Protein content: 15% of calories.
13 grams protein
Cottage Cheese (1 cup/226g low-fat):
High in calcium, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B12, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and various other nutrients.
Protein content: 59% of calories.
Greek Yogurt (170g non-fat):
Protein content: 48% of calories.
17 grams of protein
**Similar Options: Full-fat Greek yogurt (24% protein content) and Kefir (40%).
Milk (1 Cup):
High in calcium, phosphorus and riboflavin (vitamin B2).
Protein content: 21% of calories
Broccoli (1 Cup/96g):
High in vitamin C, vitamin K, fibre and potassium.
Protein content: 20% of calories.
Lean Beef (85g – 10% fat):
High in iron and vitamin B12 and large amounts of other important nutrients.
Protein content: 53% of calories
Tuna (Tinned – 1 cup/154g):
Low in calories and fats with good amounts of omega 3 fats.
Protein content: 94% of calories
Quinoa (1 cup/185g cooked):
High in large variants of vitamins, minerals and fibre, and antioxidants.
Protein content: 15% of calories
Struggle for time or always eating on the go? Protein supplementation if this is the case can be a great addition to your routine. Derived from dairy, whey protein is high in protein with generally low amounts of fats, carbohydrates and calories. Dairy-free alternatives are also available.
Protein content: Variable between brands. Whey protein is likely to have a considerable 90% of calories.
20g – 50g protein per serving.
Lentils (1 cup/198g boiled):
High fibre, magnesium, potassium, iron, folate, copper and manganese. A great source of plant based protein, and an excellent addition for vegetarians/vegans.
Protein content: 27% of calories
18 g protein
**Similar options: soybeans (33% protein content), kidney beans (24%) and chickpeas (19%).
Pumpkin Seeds (1 ounce/28g):
High in iron, magnesium and zinc.
Protein content: 14% of calories
**Similar options (12% of protein content), sunflower seeds (12%) and chia seeds (11%).
Turkey Breast (85g):
Protein content: 70% of calories.
High in omega-3 fats.
Protein content: 46% of calories
High in selenium and vitamin B12 and omega-3 fats.
Protein content: 90% of calories. 18g protein
Brussels Sprouts (0.5 cup/78g):
High in both fibre and vitamin c.
Protein content: 17% of calories.
This is Fitness