05 October 2010

The Importance of Protein in Weightloss

I have made the statement repeatedly that I am a slow loser.
New revelation
My lack of sufficient protein levels in my diet very well may be the cause of my slower weight loss.
What prompted my digging into this topic??
In previous WL ventures, I always incorporated a rather rigorous exercise program (personal trainer, disciplined exercise regimen, lots of sit ups)
This time.. not so much.
Perhaps I had some crazy idea that the band would be a magic wand and make me thin.
Not so.
I have noticed that with my band weightloss I tend to have more belly fat.. not good.
Could it be that a good % of my WL has not been fat but more muscle?

Certainly the band is a very good tool in limiting food consumption (volume)
Given that food volume is lower, the importance of consuming the RIGHT food is higher.
Those with the band can not afford to make the mistake of falling into the trap of:
Insufficient Protein Consumption.

There are clearly documented (scientific studies) that point to the relationship of low protein intake, muscle wasting, inability for the body to properly heal, and other side effects (hair loss, skin quality, hormone imbalance)
Let's face it..
You can exercise your ass off, and you will lose weight, just watch The Biggest Loser..
you will most likely experience some level of muscle wasting if your protein levels are not sufficient (over a long period of time)
Sound crazy.  read on..
If you do not consume sufficient protein in your diet, you will most likely experience muscle wasting at some magnitude.  Why, because the human body needs protein to support metabolism.

Here is an article that directly examines muscle body weight loss vs. fat body weight loss and the importance of consuming sufficient levels of protein to ensure you are losing the right kind of body weight..
Trimming excess body fat is one of the top recommendations to lower risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. But new research suggests efforts to lose extra fat may be thwarted if protein needs are not met while implementing beneficial diet and exercise programs.

One new study, recently published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, looked at three groups of women involved in a weight-reduction program. The women, all post-menopausal and obese, were randomly assigned to one of three groups: a diet-only group that reduced calorie consumption by about 400 calories a day and two other groups that made smaller calorie cuts and participated in supervised exercise three days a week (one group at low intensity and the other at high intensity).

Dieters lose more fat when eating lots of protein

The good news: Women in all three groups lost weight, averaging about 24 pounds after five months. However, even in the exercising groups, about a third of the weight lost was not fat, but lean muscle tissue.

Those who lost more fat than muscle? Women with a higher dietary protein intake, a constant that held true regardless of group assignment.

Earlier research, published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2005, found similar results among a population of middle-aged obese women. The study, which looked at the interaction of dietary protein and exercise on body composition during weight loss, concluded women who got little exercise and ate a protein level normally considered adequate for people maintaining their weight lost the most muscle tissue; those with similar protein intake but more exercise lost less muscle; and those that performed aerobic and strength-training exercise and ate more protein lost the least muscle and the most fat.

For weight loss, more protein may be needed

What’s most interesting about this research is the notion that a protein level normally considered adequate may not be enough for those trying to lose weight. To that point, a 2006 analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that people trying to lose weight might benefit from more protein than someone maintaining weight.

While the traditional approach to estimating protein needs is based on a percentage of total calorie intake, some experts suggest that an estimate based on body size (or weight) might be more appropriate.

One recommendation to facilitate better lean muscle retention during weight loss is to divide someone’s current weight (expressed in pounds) in half and use that figure as an estimate for recommended grams of protein per day.

Also note that underestimation of protein needs may be more of a problem for some people than others. People who are more overweight and those with insulin resistance may need more protein than others.

Some research also suggests that older adults may need a little extra protein to maintain their existing muscle tissue. However, people with kidney or liver disease should check with their physician before significantly boosting protein intake.

Getting more protein without eating tons of meat

Increasing protein consumption does not have to mean eating more meat. In fact, sticking to a mostly plant-based diet that provides dietary fiber and a wide range of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals is vital for good health.

Fortunately many plant-based foods supply protein, including whole grains, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds. Most adults can easily meet their protein needs with a balanced diet that includes five to six ounces a day of lean poultry, fish or meat and three servings of dairy products (or alternatives) in addition to the protein from plant based foods.

Those who prefer to omit or minimize meat or dairy products need to include multiple servings of vegetarian sources of protein like beans, nuts, seeds and perhaps some eggs.

So tomorrow, I am re-examining and closely tracking protein intake.  Not calories, but protein. 
I know that I do OK with not going over the calorie line, but I am not so sure I would get a gold star for sufficient protein..

Want to know more about how much protein you need.. then take a peek at this article

Be well.


  1. Very interesting point you have made here. I think I will join you in tracking my protein levels and see how I go over the next few weeks.
    Thanks for the food for thought :)

  2. Great post, Barbara. I generally only track my protein with each meal. I aim for 60 grams per day. I really hate to keep up with calories~that said, I do make sure that what I am eating is low in calories though.

  3. I believe in the power of protein! It also makes you less hungry, so helps with weight loss that way too. Thanks, great post.

  4. That is really interesting. I know since my last fill I am not getting enough protein and I am sure that is why I am stalling out. Yesterday I made an effort to make sure I got enough and it was hard! Keeping calories low and protein high is proving tricky!

    Good luck and thanks for posting this!

  5. Great post Barbara! I definitely find that I do best when I take in 80 - 100 g of protein per day. By getting atleast 80 g. and keeping my calories under 1200 I do not have extra calories for the carbs that I love and hate me!

  6. Great info! Thanks for sharing it! I KNOW I'm not getting enough protein in but I've now been motivated to make the extra effort.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this, it will definitely be helpful in my meal planning!

  8. Great Post! Very informative. Thanks for sharing.

  9. So true that protein is very important.

  10. barbara, you are either psychic or just intuitively know the right time to blog about this. I was at a standstill for a month and getting really bummed at the SLOWNESS of my losses. I have increased my protien intake and my scale is moving down again. I snack on cold cuts, make sure I hit at LEAST 80 grams a day and it is like, WOW, my body responds in a positive way. Great topic and thanks so much for posting this because sometimes we forget about how essential it is for weight loss. :)

  11. And when I say snack, I mean it as a way to get in additional protien, but it is always lean meat! :)

  12. Great post pop tart...much of this is why I've been so successful with Atkins-type diets throughout my adult life. It takes a bit to get used to but it is truly effective.
    Miss you.