One of my core beliefs for people who want to lose weight and burn fat is this: a high-protein diet will do you wonders.
This isn’t because you need all that protein. Far from it according to protein studies. Research is still on-going, but as long as you’re getting 0.6-0.8 grams per pound of body weight per day, you’re fine.
Now with that said:
I recommend that you consume at a minimum 0.8 grams of protein per day while dieting.
The reason for this is due to the fact that when you’re hitting your daily calorie intake with protein, you’re reducing your carbs and fats intake.
Working with men and women over the years, I’ve noticed a common problem: people severely lack protein compared to carbs and fats.
So, while you can definitely lose weight on a high-carb diet or high-fat diet, I wouldn’t recommend a novice who’s new to weight loss to take that route.
Do this instead:
Bump up your protein and reduce the amount of sugars, breads, cereals, pastries and sodas you consume.
In fact, completely cut out any beverages that aren’t water (other than tea and black coffee). Yes, you can add cream and such, but the idea is to severely limit the amount of sugars you’re putting into your body.
Most people I have worked with, especially people who are overweight and don’t know much about nutrition and dieting, have a very inconsistent protein intake.
As a result, losing weight because a massive struggle. Their metabolism is terribly slow and the weight doesn’t seem to come off even when the calories are cut back.
This is something that all those “just cut calories” bloggers and social media “experts” don’t understand: cutting back calories with a broken metabolism can cause further harm to your body, making the fat burning process even slower.
A broken metabolism is due to a poor quality diet. The foods you eat must change. And by change, this means bumping your protein intake and reducing unhealthy carbs/fats.
Get More Protein In Your Diet
It went against everything “American” in a sense. And, the health industry hated it. The diet was constantly attacked in the media and rarely talked about on TV.
I can’t even remember the last time I saw the Atkin’s Diet mentioned anywhere in the media. I haven’t seen it discussed for years!
Today, there are countless diets that focus on removing carbs or fats from your food intake.
What do all of these new-age diets have in common? Protein, protein, and more protein.
With so many diet plans promoting protein over carbohydrates and fat, it brings to mind some important questions, namely:
- Is there such a thing as consuming too much protein?
- Can too much protein damage your system or cause health problems over the long-term?
These are genuine questions that are worth asking. The science these days is still unclear when too much protein is “too much.”
Until the science is clear that too much protein can be bad, I will continue to recommend men and women to increase their protein intake.
I recommend this simply due to the fact that most people under eat their required protein amount. They consume way too many carbs and fats, and not enough protein.
Generally speaking, a “normal” amount of protein is consuming around 0.8 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass.
This number will vary for each person. Most women will need less protein than men. In fact, most women are perfectly healthy at 100 grams of protein per day.
With that said, you should definitely eat more than that if you are overweight. I’d rather you put protein in your mouth than the carbs you’re used to. Have a couple of protein shakes per day if needed.
But first, what’s the big deal about protein anyway?
Protein is a fundamental part of human life and nutrition. It can be found in cells throughout the body, though it’s especially prevalent in muscle tissue.
Due to muscle tissue’s affinity for protein, it’s become a go-to supplement in the health and fitness industry, and for good reason.
It helps curb cravings and binge eating by keeping you full for longer periods of time. Making yourself a protein smoothie with berries can help you fight off the cravings for cupcakes.
So How Much Protein Should We Be Consuming?
Well, the answer isn’t that simple, as it depends on a few different variables.
General consensus among the fitness bloggers and body builders tells us that a minimum of 0.8 grams per pound of body weight per day is required.
However, I have found that this number may be high if your goal is to simply be a healthy adult man or woman.
Imagine the scenario of an obese man weighing 250+ pounds. Do you really think he needs to be consuming 0.8 grams per body weight?
This is why 0.8 grams of lean body mass makes more sense. A man who is 250 pounds might only have 150 pounds of lean mass.
Therefore, his required protein intake only needs to be around 120 grams or so per day.
But, because adding protein to your diet helps burn the fat, I would recommend this 250 pound man to eat as much protein as he wants.
Bump it up to 200 grams per day and cut back considerably on the carbs. A high fat, high protein diet may be the best course of action for this man. Make sure you weigh all your meals and track your macros.
For the average man or woman who isn’t overweight, you will be perfectly fine with 0.8 grams per pound of body weight.
This means that an adult male who weighs 175 lbs would need to consume 140 grams of protein daily, while an adult woman who weighs 120 lbs would need around 96 (or rounded up to 100) grams per day.
I generally recommend all women to consume a minimum of 100 grams of protein per day. I find this to be the “sweet spot” for girls.
While calculating the basic minimum requirements is pretty easy, it’s important to keep in mind that this is just a recommended minimum amount.
We need to dig a bit deeper to find the answer to our question about how much protein is too much.
You may be asking yourself, “Why is this even a debate?”
Well, as we’ve already touched on, we know the minimum amounts needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But, the answer for ‘how much is too much’ is somewhat ambiguous.
The main argument against a high-protein diet seems to be tied to what’s known as rabbit starvation, or protein poisoning.
This occurs when someone consumes extreme amounts of protein and little to no fat (hence ‘rabbit starvation’ since rabbits are extremely lean).
That said, it’s difficult so consume the amount of protein necessary for this to happen in normal daily life.
When you consume the proper ratios of fats and protein in your diet, the risk of this decreases exponentially.
So, if you’re eating the proper ratio of other foods in addition to increased protein, it becomes a non-issue (just keep it in mind the next time you find yourself stranded in the woods, foraging for food).
A protein study by Shane Bilsborough and Neil Mann appeared in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism in 2006 in which they stated that an amount of 200-400g daily would be required for the body to start showing symptoms.
If we plug that into the equation we looked at earlier, you would need to be around 250 pounds of lean mass in order to need that much protein. You’re not likely to ever reach that point so don’t worry about it.
However, I have personally consumer 200+ grams of protein per day with no issues. Like I’ve been saying, bumping up the protein is a great way to burn fat.
Misinformation seems to spread like wildfire, especially in the health industry on the internet. Everybody is trying to make a buck these days.
With the entire world’s compendium of knowledge at our fingertips, it’s easy to have the wool pulled over our eyes if we aren’t careful.
Nancy Rodriguez, a registered dietitian and professor of nutritional science at the University of Connecticut, explains that, “[t]here’s a misunderstanding not only among the public, but also somewhat in our profession about the Recommended Daily Allotment (RDA)… People in general think we all eat too much protein,” (source).
So why is there so much confusion and debate on this subject, even among dietitians and nutritionists? The major reasons that immediately come to mind are:
1. It’s Hard To Prove This Stuff
In the world of science, methodical testing and proof is critical. Where are all the studies that document why a high-protein diet is unhealthy? Well, studies have been performed but they’re inconclusive.
In contrast, various studies have helped prove that a diet high in protein, much higher than the RDA has no adverse affects on the body.
In fact, even if your body only needs 0.8 grams of protein to build muscle, more protein still helps your cells and general well-being.
It’s rather difficult to refute legitimate scientific studies that show no detrimental effect to kidney function, or any other side effect, for that matter.
2. The Goldilocks Scenario
While it is true that everyone’s body is different, you’ll only be doing yourself a favor by increasing protein intake if you’re overweight.
It stands to reason that everyone has slightly different nutritional needs. It’s a nutritional Goldilocks scenario;
The amount of protein for one person may be too little or too much for someone else. It’s all about figuring out what works best for you.
A man who’s 6’4 and 240 pounds will require more protein than a man who is 5’6 and only 180 pounds. Both men are overweight, but both men will not have the same protein intake numbers.
The type of lifestyle you lead depends as well. The more active you are, the more protein you may want to eat.
Living a sedentary life? You probably don’t need nearly as many calories as you think. Low-carb diets are great for individuals who aren’t that active.
Therefore, if your goal is to burn fat and lose a lot of weight, drastically cut your carb intake and replace it with more protein.
Regardless, you should always check with your health or medical provider before starting any new diet plan.
The Bottom Line on a High-Protein Diet
As with anything else, a little bit of research and moderation seems to be the key to figuring out what works best for you.
Make protein a main part of each meal by following the basic calculation guidelines. Continue to add protein to your diet if you’re feeling those carb cravings.
The important part is to listen to your own body and use common sense. Until research says otherwise, I see no problem with eating as much protein as you desire.
The key is to replace your typical carb snacks with protein snacks instead. And no, this doesn’t mean snacking on protein granola all day…
Replace your carb-dense foods with more protein. Not only will your metabolism repair itself and burn fat, but you’ll feel all-around better for doing so.