With the popularity of high protein diets slowly fizzling out, the public is left with mixed messages about how much protein to eat and its role in weight loss. In a nutshell, protein is a macronutrient that plays many roles in the body, including being an integral part of muscle growth and repair; manufacturing hormones, antibodies and enzymes and preserving the proper acid-alkali balance in the body.
For weight loss, proteins are critical because they secrete a hormone called glucagon that facilitates the breakdown and loss of fat. In opposition, the hormone insulin, which is over-secreted due to the high intake of refined carbohydrates, facilitates the storage of fat causing weight gain. This teeter-totter effect of insulin and glucagon is the reason why protein and low glycemic carbohydrates are a necessary part of every diet.
How Much Protein is Enough?
Lets face it, carbohydrates such as breads and pastas are comfort foods and are easy to consume in large quantities. This is why we need to focus on switching our carbohydrate intake to low glycemic index carbohydrates such as whole grain, vegetables and fruits. As far as proteins, it often takes a more focused effort to get enough into your diet. How much protein is enough? The amount of protein to consume per day depends on your body weight and activity level. As a general rule, we require around 1 gram of protein per day for each pound of bodyweight. For example person who weighs 150 pounds requires 150 grams of protein each day. There are approximately 5 to 6 grams of protein per ounce of meat, so to get 1/2 your protein from meat (75 grams) you will need about 13 ounces total, or about 4 ounces each meal (an amount the size of a 1/2 chicken breast). Sample serving sizes of protein are:
The palm of your hand without thumb or fingers or a deck of cards = 3 ounces of protein.
1 scoop of protein powder = 25 grams of protein
4 ounces of chicken, fish = 28 grams of protein
3 ounces of sirloin steak = 25 grams of protein
½ cup of egg whites = 13 grams of protein
1 ounce of low-fat cheese = 7 grams of protein
1 cup of lima beans = 15 grams of protein
4 ounces of firm tofu = 10 grams of protein
To begin our weight loss program, we highly recommend following the Metabolic Booster Plan that is slightly higher in protein. The breakdown of macronutrients in this plan is:
30% low glycemic index carbohydrates
The protein in the Metabolic Booster Plan is slightly higher in order to get your metabolic engine revved up and efficient at burning calories ingested. Most members of our Metabolic Booster Plan lose anywhere from 2 to 6 pounds per week. After you have successfully completed our Metabolic Booster Plan (4 to 6 weeks), switch to our Continuum Weight Loss plan that raises the amount of low glycemic index carbohydrates to:
40% low glycemic index carbohydrates
You can expect to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week on the Continuum Weight Loss Plan.
Shopping for Proteins
As mentioned, it can often seem tricky to get enough protein into your meal. Start by following the protein tips below in order to have easy-to-grab options.
Keep sliced lean turkey or chicken breast in your fridge to make a quick sandwich or add them to a salad.
Stock your cupboards with light tuna packed in water (light tuna contains significantly less mercury in comparison to white tuna).
Add lean ground beef or chicken to a stir-fry.
Egg whites are the most pure forms of protein available. Keep hard-boiled eggs in the fridge as snacks and make a quick egg-white omelet for any meal.
Add yogurt as a wonderful protein and calcium source to any meal or as a snack. Sprinkle in some bran to add an extra crunch.
Always have low-fat cottage cheese or other low-fat cheeses in your fridge for a good protein source.
Use protein powder in a morning shake or slow-cooking oatmeal.
Become familiar with tofu: Examples are tofu cheese, veggie burgers, imitation ground beef, seasoned firm tofu in a stir-fry.
Try to minimize proteins in the diet that are high in saturated fat such as full-fat steak, pork, ribs and fast foods. Saturated fats drive up the bad cholesterol (LDL) and contribute to the hardening of arteries, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Remember, the key to success is to combine protein, carbohydrates and fats at each and every meal or snack.