Separating the fact from fiction.
Protein seems to be the new superhero food group! There are new protein products at every turn, promising weight loss, muscle mass and health!
It would appear we have our magic bullet folks!
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…let’s take a step back and look at the facts – surely this can’t be those clever marketers playing with us….🤔
In this blog I want to clear up some myths and misconceptions about protein and particularly it’s role in weight loss.
So what is protein?
It’s a big ole, complex topic – but in a nutshell…
Protein is one of the three main food groups we need to survive, Carbohydrates and Fat being the other two musketeers making up the ‘macronutrient’ group of foods we eat. Of these 3 macronutrients, protein is arguably THE most important of the three.
Why so important? Because we can survive without carbohydrates and fat because our body can create them– we wouldn’t be very well, but we’d function, whereas we can’t survive without protein!
What’s all the fuss about Protein and weight loss?
Good question! 😉
Here are three pretty fundamental reasons why it can be helpful –
1) One of the biggest benefits of protein when trying to lose weight is it keeps us feeling fuller for longer. So by eating protein we can potentially consume less calories.
2) When we lose weight we can often lose muscle mass as well as fat – eating enough protein can preserve our muscle mass. And our muscle mass helps us burn more calories – so we need to maintain it!
3) Protein boosts our metabolism as the body burns more calories digesting protein than it does carbohydrates and fats.
So how much protein do we actually need?
This is where the misconceptions come in. Beware.
The amount of protein needed depends on your weight, age, height and activity level.
The Institute of Medicine states the recommended dietary allowance for protein is 0.8 gram per kilogram of body weight a day for adults.
This means that if you weigh 90kg you should be eating 72g of protein a day.
Men trying to lose weight and build muscle may certainly benefit from more protein than this though. It is recommended that this amount is pushed up to 1.2 – 1.5g of protein per kilogram of body weight.
So YES – if you want to lose weight as a man, upping your protein is a good idea. That is a fact.
But here’s the interesting thing – in the UK, men are already eating this upper amount.
|Recommended dietary allowance of protein for adults
|Recommended protein intake for a man trying to lose weight/build muscle
|Average amount of Protein being consumed by men in the UK
|0.8g per kilo of body weight a day
|1.2 – 1.5kg per kilo of body weight a day
|1.2kg per kilo body weight a day
Most men are already eating 16-18% of protein in their daily calories, so up to 1.5g per kilo of body weight a day.
So unless you want to look like this 👇(😱) you can relax – you are getting enough protein through your meals/real food!
And guess what happens to excess protein that we eat but the body doesn’t use?
It gets stored as fat! 😬
Yep, the body has no storage facility for excess protein, so at the end of each day what isn’t used is broken down and stored as fat. How annoying is that?!
Now we know how much – what are the best sources of protein.
Well, I’m sorry to say – it’s not shakes, bars, or powders. This is another piece of fiction!
These are ultra processed foods and often contain added crap – not good!
By far the best, healthiest forms of protein come from natural food sources – lean meat, fish, eggs, beans and pulses, nuts and seeds, natural yogurt (Come on, you remember your GCSE/O’level biology! 😉).
Pretty much everything we eat contains some protein (which is why we are eating enough of the stuff!). From broccoli to bananas, and Weetabix to Walkers crisps – all contain protein.
So trust me – WE DON’T NEED THOSE PROTEIN SHAKES AND BARS!
Protein is best spread throughout the day.
In the UK we generally eat the bulk of our protein in our evening meal, but evidence suggests it is best spread throughout the day. Our bodies need protein all day and, as it helps keep us fuller for longer, if we eat it at each meal, we can minimise the snacking.
Eggs, porridge, natural yogurt, nuts and seeds are all a good start to the day (no added protein powder needed!) and much better than cornflakes and toast!
Where has our obsession with Protein come from?
The food manufactures and marketeers have got a lot to answer for here.
First Fats and then Carbs were singled out as the cause of the obesity problems. Protein is literally the last man standing!
And because it is so essential to our bodies functioning and linked to keeping us fuller for longer – protein must be the answer….
It is perceived that
- Protein = health
- Protein = weight loss
But that’s just too simplistic.
Yes, protein is a healthy, essential food source and it can be beneficial in losing weight. But it’s only part of the equation.
Our obsession with protein in this county means we are generally eating more protein than we need, and with all excess calories being stored as fat – our protein consumption may actually be fuelling the obesity crisis!
So whilst you may feel ultra healthy adding protein powder to your breakfast – are you sure you need it? I would suggest you don’t.
To lead a healthy life and be an ideal weight – we need all three Macronutrients – Fats, Carbohydrates and Protein.
Weight loss is about consuming less food, particularly the highly processed, high sugar/fat rubbish – which generally sums up most manufactured protein bars!
I would suggest if you can’t EAT enough protein from natural sources – you don’t need it.
Weight loss is not about eating copious amounts of protein.
Weight loss is also about eating a healthy balanced diet, getting enough sleep, being active, not drinking your body weight in beer/wine etc.
In a nutshell…
Protein is an essential part of our diet – if we don’t eat it, we’ll die! But luckily protein is in pretty much everything we eat.
By eating a good, varied diet, you will be consuming enough protein, without chugging down the protein shakes – and yes, even vegetarians and vegans are generally eating enough protein too!
Eating good protein can help us feel fuller for longer which can help us eat less calories overall. So including a good source of protein in each meal can help us stop the snacking – (so we can cut out those highly processed protein bars! 🥳).
And any excess calories not used at the end of the day, will be stored as fat – even the protein ones!
So men, (yes, even you ones who are hitting the gym) eating good protein in your meals will help you to lose weight, it’s a good idea to switch out some of the starchy carbs for extra protein, but it’s not all about the protein and you probably are eating enough!
I hope this helps you if you’ve been obsessing about the amount of protein you need, and please, stop wasting your money on those protein ‘products’!
For anyone who’d like some help with weight loss – I’m here!
Let’s have a chat – book here for a virtual cuppa. I’ll put the kettle on!