eating high protein foods for weight loss

When attempting to lose weight, people experiment with different types of diet plans. This is to find which one will be more suitable but more importantly, which will be easier to stick to. Needless to say, there has also been a lot said about using a high protein diet for losing weight.

A lot of diets have been promoting increased consumption of protein foods. However, there are still some arguments about its use in losing weight.

It is important to understand the different arguments by both sides. This can only be through a good understanding of proteins. This includes their roles in maintaining a healthy body and also how they affect healthy weight loss.

What are Proteins?

Proteins are a large number of organic compounds. They contain carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. Protein serves as the basic structural molecule of all the tissues in the human body. They play important roles in the maintenance, growth, and functioning of body cells.

Aside from these main functions, proteins are also responsible for muscle contraction. They also play major roles in a lot of the body’s important chemical messengers. These include neurotransmitters, enzymes, and hormones.

Proteins are the major building blocks of enzymes. Some of these enzymes are in the digestive system and the antibodies of the immune system. They are also the building blocks of insulin and other hormones. The muscles, skin, hair, and connective tissues are all made up of proteins. They make up about 17 percent of the total body weight.

The Building Blocks of Proteins

Amino acids are the fundamental building blocks of protein. There are about twenty different forms which the body uses. Eleven of these amino acids are non-essential or dispensable. This is because the body is capable of synthesizing them.

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The other nine amino acids are essential or indispensable. This is as a result of the body’s inability to synthesize them by itself to meet the cellular needs of the body. Therefore, our diets are the main source of these essential amino acids.

Proteins are also considered to be “complete” or “incomplete.” This is based on their amino acid structural makeup.

Animal proteins like meat, fish, poultry, cheese, and eggs are complete proteins. This is because they contain all nine essential amino acids in enough quantities. They are absorbable and of high quality.

But plant proteins such as legumes, seeds, nuts, and grains are incomplete. This is because they lack one or more of the essential amino acids and are thus of low quality.

Protein foods contain some amounts of both the essential and non-essential amino acids. Yet, a healthy diet is one that has sufficient and balanced amounts of both.

However, consumption of combinations of incomplete protein foods can add up. But they have to be consumed at the same time or within short intervals. This way, they create a high-quality protein meal having all the essential amino acids.

Processing of Proteins by the Body

Digestion of protein fragments into amino acids takes place in the small intestines. Their conversion into glucose and fat takes place when they are in the liver. Also, they can be released into the bloodstream.

The body tissues then take up the amino acids for glucose production. The body uses them for its growth and maintenance as well as other necessary functions.

Generally, the body does not store proteins as their amino acids are metabolized within a few hours. Therefore, they need to be continuously replenished.

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Also, the body does not use them as a major source of energy fuel. However, proteins can be a major source of energy only under certain situations.

The body does not use proteins when there are enough alternative amounts of carbohydrates and fats. It however resorts to proteins when there are insufficient amounts of both carbohydrates and fats.

But this is not economical and negatively affects tissue maintenance, growth, and repair.

The human body needs all the essential amino acids available at the same time for building and maintaining muscles. This is why it is best to eat combinations of incomplete protein foods at the same time or at short intervals.

The body makes compensations whenever these essential amino acids are missing from meals. In such situations, it breaks down its own muscles to get them. This depletion of muscle mass usually results in a lowered metabolism. It has negative effects which can result in weight gain.

There is a continual renewing and repair of body tissues. The amount of protein needed is dependent on the rate of the renewal or the stage of growth and development.

Recommended Protein Consumption

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein intake for an adult is generally 0.8gm/kg body weight. This translates into about 55 grams for a 150-pound male and 44 grams for a 120-pound female.

The RDA does not vary in times of strenuous activities or exercise, nor with progressing age. Yet there is a wide range in the amount of protein an individual can eat during certain periods of physical development.

Using High Protein Consumption for Weight Loss

It is important to eat enough proteins in your diet. If taken in excess – like in most high protein diets – it can have certain effects. There is a possible conversion into body fat and it may also pose a health risk for certain persons.

Thus, it is best that when starting a weight loss program, you start with consuming more proteins. Let about 30% of your total calories consumption come from high quality protein foods. This will to help reduce your insulin levels.

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When you start losing weight or reaching your target weight, then you can start to adjust the ratios. At this stage, start to decrease your protein intake. Also, it is important to drink a lot of water with increased protein intake. This is because proteins need a lot of water to metabolize unlike carbohydrates and fats.

In closing, the body needs protein for weight loss. It is also needed for muscle building and other vital body functions. However, the fact is that it does not need protein as its main source of energy fuel.

Building more muscles by eating enough proteins and exercising regularly helps to burn more calories. This owes to the fact that muscles are metabolically active tissues.