I recently had a reminder of why increasing protein intake helps tremendously in losing fat. With the stay-at-home orders, my wife and I have been trying to limit how much we go to the store, so I have been trying to make our meals go a little further. For example, I normally would eat a whole large chicken breast by myself for lunch or dinner, and make 1/2 of one for Kelly. I started just giving myself the other 1/2 of hers and having that. Now did my muscles suddenly implode and I start to look like 12 year old Richard? No, but I did find myself snacking more, which probably meant I was eating more calories than I needed.
You see, protein takes more time to breakdown, and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Since I wasn’t as satisfied from my meals, I definitely was hitting up the pantry more after lunch and dinner and eating things like chips and pretzels (carb-dense foods that digest quickly, don’t leave you full for long, and are by no means a low calorie food).
Realizing this, I started eating a whole chicken breast again. I noticed that I was satisfied after I finished it, even though it seemed like a lot of food and I had to chew a whole lot more (in addition to the crap load of steam broccoli and 1/2 sweet potato on my plate). My energy level felt really good too after each meal. It wasn’t too much so I didn’t feel sluggish, and it kept me from raiding the pantry for carbohydrate-dense foods that sap my energy after I eat them. This allows me to do my job well and get in great workouts for myself.
Here’s another fun fact about protein: when you are lowering your caloric intake (like when trying to lose weight), increasing the amount of your calories from protein can make sure that your weight loss is from fat and not muscle. This has been clinically studied with whey protein supplements. Look it up on Google, there are many studies in animals and humans that prove this.
So I guess my point is, if you find yourself getting snacky and want to keep the calories down for fat loss, start with eating more protein.
How do you start? For women, 1 palm-sized portion of protein dense food at each meal. For men, 2 palm-sized portions of protein dense food at each meal. Keep in mind, this is just a starting point and you can adjust of your goals and needs. Some people feel full with more protein, some need less. Some need more smart carbs to feel full. Everyone is a little different and it takes some experimenting to see what makes you look and feel your best.