Protein & Weight Loss: What’s the Connection?

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January 18-24 is Healthy Weight Week, celebrating positive, diet-free living habits that help prevent eating/weight problems. This is worth noting, especially as a recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index indicates that Americans are increasingly overweight or obese, exercising less, and eating unhealthy foods. In fact, over 63% of adults in the U.S. were either overweight or obese in 2009.

While people clearly need help, many fad diets only seem to compound the problem. Fortunately, one natural key to healthy, lasting weight loss is as simple as it is effective. Did you know that the amount of high-quality protein you consume can significantly affect your metabolic rate and promote weight loss?

Dietary protein stimulates thermogenesis—fat burning—more than either carbohydrates or fat. According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, protein-rich diets provide a metabolic advantage, stimulating body fat loss while preserving valuable lean muscle and stabilizing blood sugar.

Many Americans consume too little protein. Daily needs range from .8 grams per pound of body weight to 1.5 grams or more, depending on your activity level and fitness goals. Lean protein sources include egg whites, whey protein powder, seafood, turkey, chicken, lean meats, and non-fat plain yogurt and cottage cheese. As for vegetarians, the Harvard School of Public Health states that beans, nuts, and whole grains are excellent protein choices, offering fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Since protein has a greater “satiety” value—more filling and satisfying—than either carbohydrates or fat, increasing protein intake while simultaneously reducing your total daily calories will better enable you to avoid hunger and minimize blood sugar swings. So, again, if you’re looking to trim down safely, optimal protein intake is one dietary tactic that appears to be both easy and effective.

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