Forget everything you know about weight loss. Nutritionists have compelling reasons to say that protein is the best of the best dietary options for weight loss without feeling starved. While keeping you full and energized, a protein-rich diet is also known to help preserve muscle tone while supporting fat loss. According to dietitian Karen Ansel, RD, protein requires more energy to digest than carbs or fat, so your metabolism is challenged a bit by eating foods high in protein instead of other foods.
That’s probably the easy part. One question remains unanswered though, and that is: “How much protein do you actually need to chow down to benefit from its perks?” The following simple formula will give you a hint: divide your weight (in pounds) by 2.2 to find out your weight in kilograms. Multiply that number by 0.8 to get the minimum amount of protein you should be eating. There’s a little trick behind this. If you work out intensely during the week (four or more days), multiply your weights in kg by 1.2 (if you exercise four times weekly) or 1.6 (if you exercise more than four times a week) to find out the recommended protein intake (in grams). Trying to lose fat? In this case, the formula changes: multiply your weight in kg by 2 or 2.2 (if you exercise intensely more than four times a week) for the exact amount of protein you should include in your diet.
The most important thing when you decide to go on a protein-packed diet to lose fat is to space out your consumption. The biggest mistake you could make is to start downing protein for most of the day until dinner allowing hardly enough time for your body to utilize it, experts say. Protein is a tricky nutrient, as unlike carbs or fat, it cannot be stored by the body and hence, it is either used or lost.
The golden rule is to spread out your protein intake so as to consume around 20g with each meal and 5 to 10g from snacks, which will total up the recommended average of 70g of protein intake by bedtime. To give you a brief idea of how much food this is, think of a palm-sized piece of lean meat or fish, which contains about 30g of protein, while a cup of Greek yogurt packs around 20g and an ounce of cheese or an egg has 6g more or less.
Top Protein-Packed, Must-Eat Foods
If you wish to lose weight without feeling famished, here are a few top foods you should definitely add to your protein-based diet for weight loss:
Apart from a good calorie and protein source, spinach is also high in vitamins K, A, and C, antioxidants and folate (known for its heart-healthy properties). Did you know that only one cup of this powerfood contains the same amount of protein as a hard boiled egg and half the calories? To take full advantage of its nutritional perks, steam it rather than eating it raw. Steaming is known to help retain vitamins and enhance the body’s capacity to absorb the calcium found in the healthy green. You can always add a handful to soups, omelets, pasta or veggie stir-fries. Steamed spinach alone seasoned with with garlic, white pepper, a bit of olive oil and a few drops of lemon juice makes a delicious meal choice, let alone that this green veggie counts among the top 10 greens considered to be healthier than kale.
Do you know how many calories and protein a cup of sun-dried tomatoes contains? 139 calories and 6g of protein!
Tomatoes are a rich source of antioxidant lycopene, which has been scientifically determined to reduce the risk of developing bladder, lung, stomach, prostate and skin cancers, as well as lower the risk of coronary artery disease. Only one cup of sun-dried tomatoes, apart from tummy-filling protein, supplies 7g of fiber and ¾ of the potassium RDA (recommended daily intake). Potassium is known to contribute tremendously to heart health and tissue repair. Dried tomatoes are also a lavish source of vitamins A and K. They make a perfect pizza topping, add a spicy flavor to your salads or if you feel like having a tangy snack, sun-dried tomatoes are always an excellent choice.
112 calories and 4.2g of protein are packed in one cup-serving of this tropical fruit. Guava is the richest fruit in protein that also lavishes you with 9g of fiber per serving. Containing 600 percent of the daily value (DV) of vitamin C per cup, which equals the amount supplied by more than 7 medium-sized oranges, guava should be top of your shopping list.
When you’re hungry, the amount of ghrelin or the ‘hunger hormone’ in your body is increased. However, this sensation is suppressed when your stomach is full. Eating foods that are high in fiber and protein give you the sensation of satiety. Artichoke is a winner on both fronts. Containing about twice as much fiber as kale (10.3g per medium-sized artichoke or 40 percent of the daily fiber intake a woman needs), artichoke is the richest in protein among vegetables. Boil it and serve it as a salad. Mix the whole shebang with some goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes for an enhanced flavor. Take it up a notch and sprinkle some of your favorite greens (dill or parsley) and dressing. If you’re a pizza lover, then how about a healthy artichoke pizza topped with peeled artichoke hearts?
A cup of green peas contributes 118 calories and 8g of protein. Nutritional research determined that a cup of green peas packs eight times more protein than a cup of spinach and nearly 100 percent of the daily value of vitamin C. So feast on green peas, if you want to keep the doctor away! Add them to your salads and omelets to increase the satiating power of your dish.
So if you’re trying to lose weight, add some of these foods to your diet to help you on your journey. Not only will you start to feel more full, but you will aid in building muscle, which helps burn fat! Keep tuning in to our blog, more healthy diet and lifestyle tips coming up soon!