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High Protein Diet: A Simple Guide

high protein diet

In a recent six-month study done on overweight women following a high protein diet, it was found that they lost 43% more fat than those on a high carb diet. However, a diet rich in protein is not just about weight loss. Proteins are the building blocks of organs, muscles, hormones, skin and several other functionalities of the body. A high protein meal plan is essential for anyone looking to get into that perfect shape while building good health.

What Is a High Protein Diet?

A high protein diet is based around consuming up to double the recommended amount of Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for protein which is 0.36 g per pound of our body weight. This diet is ideal for weight loss and improvement of body composition.

Benefits

Consumption of high protein reduces appetite and naturally, following this diet, you consume lesser calories overall. In a study, a group of participants were kept on a diet of 30% protein and were allowed to eat as much as they wanted. The other group observed a diet with 10% protein. The result was startling, as the group consuming 30% protein consumed 441 fewer calories per day. Below is an in-depth analysis of the various benefits offered by a high protein diet:

Weight Loss

belly lose weight

Eating more protein helps suppress hunger and keeps you full for several hours after eating. Following a high protein diet boosts the production of GLP-1 and PYY hormones responsible for making us feel full and satisfied for long. Additionally, it brings down the level of the hunger hormone, ghrelin.  In a study conducted on 12 healthy women, the group who followed a high protein diet exhibited higher levels of GLP – 1, which made them less hungry than the group who were on a low protein diet.

Yet another reason that backs the symptom of fullness can be related to the metabolism rate. The metabolic rate experiences a significant boost as believed by scientists. Multiple studies have acknowledged the fact that when we are on a high protein diet, we continue burning more calories even several hours after eating.

For example, in a study performed on 10 healthy young women following a high protein diet plan for a day, it was shown that it boosted their metabolic rate almost twice as much as being on a one-day high carb diet. Digestion of protein seems to increase the rate of metabolism by a staggering 20 to 35%, as compared to a mere 5 to 15% increase needed for the digestion of fat and carbs.

For those planning to lose weight, for them, this study proves to be equally encouraging. 65 overweight and obese women were made to follow a six month-long diet. The high-protein group shed 43% excess fat on an average as compared to their high-carb peers, while 35% of the high-protein eatersalso lost at least 22 pounds.

Reduces Muscle Loss

reduce muscle loss

With a high protein diet, you can avoid muscle loss, which otherwise could be a problem on a low-calorie diet responsible for slowing down metabolism. Many people have the tendency to lose muscle as their age increases. One study revealed that including a dose of protein shake on the daily diet can protect muscle health and reduce age-related muscle loss.

Increases Muscle Mass

You can increase your muscle strength and size with a higher intake of protein, provided you combine it with resistance training. Protein supplies the necessary amino acids which are an important muscle component. Protein supports the basic components of maintaining health as well as the formation of bone and muscle tissues. A high consumption of protein stimulates protein synthesis which assembles the muscle building tissues and amino acids.

Strengthens Bones

strengthen bones

High protein intake is synonymous with better bone health. Take this study for example, where, a group of older women consuming the highest amount of animal protein experienced a 69% reduced risk of hip fracture. As you eat more protein, your body absorbs calcium more efficiently. A new study has also indicated that a high protein diet can even stop osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disorder.

Promotes Healing of Wounds

If you follow a high protein diet, chances are your wounds, or even bedsores will heal faster than those on a low protein diet, as revealed by scientific studies. This is because; protein repairs the damaged tissues by rapidly forming collagen. When a body part is wounded, there is additional protein loss. In fact, the affected area can cause to lose up to 100 mg of protein a day through leakage of fluid or exudation. A high protein diet then becomes essential to speed up the recovery.

What Can You Eat?

A high protein diet is a no-fail diet if you are looking to shed those extra kilos and build good health. An ideal meal plan comprises a mixture of plant-based foods alongside lean animal protein. Here is a list of some delicious foods to include in your high protein diet:

Lean Beef and White Meats

white meat

Enriched with vitamin B12, highly bioavailable iron, and large amounts of several other important nutrients, lean beef is an excellent source of protein. Every 3 ounce of cooked lean beef contains 22 g of protein. Chicken breast is yet another recommended food for high protein dieters. The majority of calories contributed by a skinless chicken breast come from its protein content.

Quick and easy to cook, a roasted chicken breast without skin, contains 80 percent of protein. Quite similar is turkey breast whose main component is protein. The meat is also low in fat and calories besides being high in minerals and vitamins. An ounce serving of turkey contains 70% of protein, which makes it an ideal inclusion in a high protein diet.

Egg Whites

Egg Whites

Low in calories but high in protein content, egg whites are a must include in a high protein meal plan. It is interesting to note that 67% of the protein found in an entire egg is comprised by egg white. Importantly, the protein quality of egg whites is quite high as it is a complete protein, meaning, it is enriched with nine essential amino acids required for the body’s optimal functioning.

Whey Protein Supplements

Protein supplements are probably the simplest way to replenish the body’s protein deficit or to enrich it. It is an excellent alternative for those who are pressed for time to cook protein-rich meals and follow a well-laid high protein meal plan for a prolonged period of time. A serving of whey protein supplement can supply the body with more than 90% calories, with 20 to 50 g contributed by protein.

Tuna

tuna for protein

Include tuna in your high protein diet, which is mostly composed of protein and has very low content of calories and fats. Besides, the fish is also enriched with other nutrients with a decent percentage of omega-3s. A cup of canned tuna in water is loaded with 39 g of protein.

Greek Yogurt

The thick textured Greek yogurt or strained curd makes a delicious addition to any high protein meal plan. Opt for a non-fat version if weight loss is your primary goal. A 6-ounce cup of the yogurt contains 17 grams of protein with as less as 100 calories.

Plant-Based Foods High in Protein

Plant proteins can do good for your health in more than one way. For instance, they are devoid of saturated fat. This is the single best factor which helps in maintaining muscle mass. This is also the very reason that plant-based proteins can prevent blood vessel problems. Moreover, they are also anti-inflammatory. Below are some of the best plant-based proteins:

Lentils

Any high protein diet is incomplete without lentils, be it red or green. Lentils are loaded with protein, iron, potassium, and fiber. Half a cup of cooked lentils nourishes your body with 8.84 g of protein. Add them to your salads, curries, rice or stews.

Broccoli

high protein broccoli

A cup of chopped broccoli serves the body 2.6 g of protein. In other words, protein makes up 20% of the calories contained in the crucifer. Besides, the vegetable is loaded with folate, potassium, vitamins C and K, phosphorus and manganese. The best part is, a cup of broccoli contains as few as 31 calories. Eat it fresh in your salads or enjoyed it roasted, baked, sautéed or steamed.

Count on chia seeds when on a diet with high protein consumption. The seeds are low in calorie and a tablespoon of it contains 2 g of protein. Besides, they are enriched with fiber and Omega-3s. Chia seeds make delicious smoothies, as garnishes on plant-based yogurt and as an ingredient in almond milk pudding.

Quinoa

The high protein content of Quinoa makes the grain a complete protein source. A cup of cooked quinoa yields 8 g of protein. Besides, the grain is rich in iron, fiber, manganese, and magnesium. Quinoa soups, salads, and stews make good recipes on a high protein meal plan.

Soy Products

soy products

Soy is one of the best sources of plant-based protein. Foods like tempeh, tofu, and edamame are excellent sources of protein, especially when you are on a vegan high-protein diet. Soybean curd or firm tofu is loaded with 10 g of protein for every half cup of it. Immature soybeans, better known as edamame, contain 8.5 g protein per half cup.

The same amount of tempeh or soybean cake is enriched with 15 g of protein. Since tofu and tempeh take the flavor of any dish it is added to, go ahead and get creative with your recipes as you can add it to any chicken or fish recipes, like kung pao tofu, sweet and sour tempeh, and so on. For snacking, edamame makes a great addition in the form of crispy edamame, chili garlic edamame, etc.

Vegan Protein Shakes

Plant-based ingredients like peas, sunflower seeds, and peas, amongst others, are sold in the form of protein powders. For example, a quarter cup of unflavored pea protein powder yields 21 g of protein and 100 calories. It is enriched with amino acids like isoleucine, leucine, and valine. The powders make nutritious vegan shakes which fuel up the working muscles and help in building more muscle protein.  
 

How to Follow a High Protein Diet?

You can find out your protein needs by multiplying your weight in kilograms by 1.2–1.6 grams or in pounds by 0.6–0.75 grams, or your weight in kilograms by 1.2–1.6 grams. Track your calories by maintaining a food diary. Usually, a minimum of 25 g of protein per meal is required for a healthy weight loss.

Food Swaps

high protein black rice

Ditch white rice for wild rice, brown rice or quinoa for a wholesome high protein meal. Include Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt in the diet which is an excellent source of protein.

High Protein Diet for Perfect Body

A perfect body is not just about beautiful curves or great muscles; it is also about good health. Your body composition improves, your metabolism gets a boost, and it becomes much easier to build muscles. Besides, there are plenty of food options, even for hardcore vegans.

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