The Power of Protein For Permanent Weight Loss
Protein is made up of various amino acids. In terms of weight loss, scientists are finding that the most important amino acids are the branch chain amino acids, especially leucine. If you get your protein intake high enough, especially in proteins that are rich in leucine, a number of very interesting things happen that can activate a sluggish metabolism and result in weight loss.
One easy way to get a lot of leucine, without any fat, is to use high quality whey protein. The casein, a common dairy-protein allergen, is not part of whey protein. The finest whey proteins use advanced filtration technology to leave all the protein molecules intact. In this process the saturated fat, cholesterol, and lactose are removed – yielding a very useful leucine-rich food for metabolic enhancement.
The highest sources of leucine-containing foods are animal and dairy sources. Cottage cheese and red meat top the list; other sources include milk, cheese, eggs, pork, fish, chicken, legumes, peanuts, nuts, and seeds. If you avoid red meat and dairy products, it harder it is to get leucine-containing foods in higher amounts – though not impossible. Using whey protein makes it easy. I always recommend individuals stay away from processed soy protein (like soy protein drinks), as it is anti-thyroid in higher amounts.
Eating four egg whites and 2 yolks for breakfast has been shown to boost weight loss over 50%, compared to the same amount of calories from carbohydrates – like a bagel.
How Protein Helps Your Metabolism
One of the key researchers in this area is Donald Layman, PhD6, from the University of Illinois, who has published many papers on the subject. He has found that the higher protein in combination with lower carbohydrates (150 grams or 600 calories per day) is effective to support weight loss, blood sugar metabolism, and a variety of factors that impact cardiovascular health.
His research points out that during weight loss our bodies can easily lose muscle mass (and bone for that matter). Amino Acids have a direct signaling effect on muscle that prevents muscle loss during weight loss. This means that on a high-protein diet, the weight that is lost is mostly fat, not muscle. Whereas on a high-carbohydrate weight-loss diet, much more muscle is lost.
Amino acids directly communicates to insulin, instructing it to work efficiently in muscle. This not only helps preserve your muscle mass, it helps your muscles use glucose as fuel, in turn supporting healthy insulin function.
A higher protein rich diet invariably lowers blood levels of triglycerides, which helps leptin7 get into your brain easier so that you feel full on fewer calories. Once leptin gets into your brain correctly, then leptin resistance8 is reduced, and your metabolism gets a go signal. The important HDL Cholesterol needs adequate dietary protein in order to form its structure. We now know that HDL proteins get “spent” as HDL works to help clear LDL cholesterol. If you don’t have adequate protein you can’t make quality HDL at an optimal rate. A higher-protein diet supports HDL formation while lowering triglycerides, a two-pronged benefit that not only helps weight management but also supports a healthier lipid profile for cardiovascular well being.
Layman points out that having a higher protein breakfast is needed to maximize these benefits of protein. In order to benefit from high protein for weight loss, the amount of simple sugar carbohydrates must be reduced.
When you reduce the overall amount of carbohydrates eaten will help you lose faster. This is because carbohydrates are easy-to-use fuels. When you eat less carbs, you encourage your body to break down stored fat. You prevent your body from converting muscle protein to fuel (blood sugar) by eating higher protein, thus preserving muscle mass and keeping your metabolism higher.
Another great reason to eat a high-protein breakfast is that it wakes up your liver and gives it something to do. Your liver is the metabolic factory of your body. A high-protein breakfast can increase your metabolic rate by thirty percent for as long as twelve hours, the calorie-burning equivalent of a three to five mile jog.
Fats and carbohydrates are easy for your liver to use, increasing liver metabolism by only four percent, whereas protein must be taken apart and re-assembled for use elsewhere in your body. This dynamic effect of protein has recently been shown to be the key in supporting your natural ability to burn fat at a faster rate12 when consuming a diet higher in protein.
All your body structures, many hormones, lots of enzymes, and neurotransmitters all require special proteins that your liver must help make.
A higher-protein diet also has a natural diuretic effect. Individuals with extra weight are often sluggish and holding extra water. This not only makes their blood pressure go up, as their heart tries to push harder to move the stagnation, the extra water in connective tissues directly gets in the way of fat burning.
When you eat a higher protein diet then an important blood protein called albumin will increase. As albumin increases, through osmotic force, it draws water back out of your connective tissues, thus helping you get rid of fluid retention. If you have too much inflammation13, then your kidneys may leak albumin into your urine, provoking fluid retention, weight problems, and significant cardiovascular risk.
A major problem of lower protein-diets is just the opposite – the more carbohydrates an overweight person eats, the more fluids they retain. Further, higher carbohydrate meals stimulate leptin production too much, in turn provoking leptin resistance and inappropriate desire for more carbohydrates. Too many carbohydrates cause your willpower to be in a constant wrestling match with out-of-balance leptin. It is rather obvious from the amount of yo-yo dieting in our society that misguided leptin usually wins. The best way to win the wrestling match is to not have it in the first place – meaning eat fewer carbohydrates.
When weight is lost on a higher carbohydrate diet it is much more likely that people will hit a plateau in a few months that they cannot get past, long before the goal weight is reached. Successful ongoing weight loss is much easier, and much less prone to stubborn plateaus, when your basic diet is higher in quality proteins made up of Amino Acids.
On your Glycemic Index Food Lists you will have many sources of proteins to choose from. Knowledge is power.
Eat for your Future!