Efficiency is the name of the game when it comes to maximizing fat loss. Notice I intentionally used the word “fat” instead of “weight”. Anyone can create fast (and short-term) success manipulating calorie, hydration, and carbohydrate intake to make it appear that you successfully lost weight until it comes back again in full force. Instead, we want to curb our hunger, feel fuller longer, and enjoy our meals while sustainably and relatively quickly losing fat.
The act of training whether it be strength, hypertrophy, or even cardio is catabolic. Meaning we are breaking down muscle tissue. While the training is good, the recovery process is vital. And recovery is where dietary protein shines. Let’s take a look at both the ROLE and the APPLICATION of Protein.
The Role of Protein
Now, I cover this in some detail in Introduction to Protein, but let’s expand on it:
- Proteins provide building materials – amino acids – for growth and repair of body tissues.
- Proteins form vital parts of most body structures, such as skin, nails, hair, membranes, muscles, teeth, bones, organs, ligaments and tendons.
- Proteins facilitate numerous chemical reactions in the body; all enzymes are proteins.
- Some proteins act as chemical messengers, regulating body processes; not all hormones are proteins.
- Proteins assist the body in maintaining its resistance to disease by acting against foreign disease-causing substances.
- Proteins help regulate the quantity of fluids in body compartments.
- Proteins act as buffers, to maintain the normal acid and base concentrations in body fluids.
- Proteins move the required nutrients and other substances into and out of cells and around the body.
- Protein can be used to provide calories (4 calories per gram) to help meet the body’s energy needs.
The Application of Protein
You may be thanking me for the nice science lesson, but wondering what that has to do with you and consuming more of this macronutrient. Here’s the application and the reason WHY you should be consuming at least your bodyweight in grams of Protein:
- Protein has a very high thermic effect. By thermic effect, we’re referring to the energy required to digest, absorb, and distribute nutrients. Foods and nutrients with a high thermic effect, such as protein, require more energy—i.e., calories—to digest. Therefore, foods with lots of protein burn more calories in digestion.
- Protein is a very satiating nutrient. Eating is a hormonally-driven behavior, and fats, carbs, and proteins all produce different hormonal responses which can leave us feeling hungry or full. It’s important to know that, when it comes to satiety, protein is king!
- Protein is responsible for the repair of skeletal muscle tissue. If your goal is to achieve higher levels of performance, then you are most likely doing a decent amount of resistance training. While this is certainly in line with your goals, it can also become detrimental without adequate protein intake.
- Training is simply an act of breaking down lean muscle tissue. But without adequate nutrient (protein) intake to repair this tissue, over the long term, your body won’t be able to create the adaptive response we are after. In this case, protein is ESSENTIAL to making progress.
- Protein is a major factor in maintaining or adding lean body mass. As an athlete, there will be times when you are looking to shed fat or add muscle. Regardless of the goal, proper protein intake will be essential.
- Protein stimulates the release of glucagon, the “release” hormone. Unlike insulin, the “storage” hormone, glucagon will allow us to release stored energy for use. Clearly, releasing stored energy (and not storing new calories) will prove favorable to body composition and aesthetics.
If you want to burn more calories, feel fuller longer, keep your hard-earned muscle, add more lean muscle, and use stored energy and fat to improve body composition, the message is clear! Get more protein! Ensure that you are getting at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. So if you are a 200lb man, you should be consuming 200g of protein a day. If you’re a 135lb female, get those 135g of protein in!
Once you have your protein accounted for, your dietary fats and carbohydrates can be adjusted as need.