Five reasons to eat more protein

Mariia Roza
4 min readAug 4, 2021

Protein is one of the three macronutrients that you get with food. It is contained in most animal products, like meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs. You can also find protein in nuts, legumes, and some vegetables like broccoli and Brussel sprouts and grains, including rice and oats. Most dietitians agree that to get all amino acids you need, you have to consume both animal-derived and plant-based protein.

Unfortunately, some people don’t get enough protein which can negatively affect their health, body composition and slow down their weight loss. Here are five reasons why you should pay more attention to the amount of protein in your diet, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.

1. Protein contains only four calories per gram

Calories matter, and multiple case studies and research show that it’s all about the calories in — calories out equation when it comes to weight loss. In other words, to lose weight, you have to eat fewer calories than you burn during the day.

The most calorie-dense macronutrient is fat. This is why it was abandoned by dietetic society several decades ago. Fortunately, today we know that fat is important for our health. Moreover, it is essential for weight loss. I have to emphasize this as even today, some nutritionists put their clients onto low-fat diets though we already know that this approach doesn’t work for sustainable weight loss.

Another category of foods that are high in calories is actually beverages. These are alcoholic drinks. The thing is, one gram of pure ethanol contains seven calories per one gram. This means that, depending on their potency, various spirits can add from 43 calories per 100 ml (light beer) to 230 calories per 100 ml (vodka, gin) to your daily calorie intake.

Carbohydrates contain the same four calories per gram as protein sources do. However, you might have noticed that it is very easy to overeat with high-carb products. As a rule, these are products containing sugar and processed flour, like buns, cakes, cookies, puddings, etc.

2. Protein is highly satiating

According to multiple studies published in peer-reviewed journals, protein has a more considerable satiating power than other macronutrients. You can see these effects on yourself after eating 100 grams of tofu, canned tuna, or eggs.

One of the explanations why this happens is that your pancreas doesn’t produce too much insulin when you eat protein. It doesn’t spike and doesn’t drop after a meal, making you even hungrier than before. If you try to overeat chicken breasts or tofu, you will notice that this is hard to do.

A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition had demonstrated that doubling protein intake from 15% to 30% increases satiety and decreases calorie intake in subjects even when they don’t try to reduce their calories intentionally.

3. Protein builds your muscle

Protein consists of amino acids our muscles use to repair themselves or grow if you’re trying to build up muscle mass. Studies show that bodybuilders who eat as much as 1.6 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of their body weight better perform at the gym and show better results in terms of muscle growth.

Why it matters if you’re not a bodybuilder? The thing is, muscles need more energy than fat, so in a long perspective, by building some muscles, you can dramatically increase your metabolic rate in the future and be able to eat more food while staying at the same weight.

4. Protein needs more energy to digest

Even though the TEF (thermal effect of food) takes a relatively small part in the whole TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) equation, it still exists, and with protein, it is higher than with other macronutrients. For example, some studies show that your body needs 10 to 20% more energy to digest protein than fats or carbs.

5. It’s not only about weight loss

Higher protein consumption makes your bones stronger, helps you recover from injuries faster, stimulates the production of youth protein fibers in your skin (collagen and elastin) boosts your cognition and improves your immune system.

Summing up

Even though you can get your essential amino acids from a comparatively low amount of protein (15% of your calorie intake), increasing your consumption of lean protein sources might stimulate your weight loss.

Disclaimer: This article is not a recommendation to start a high-protein diet. If you want to make protein your primary source of energy, consult your doctor first, as too-high protein consumption might harm your kidneys if they’re not in perfect condition.

Sources

Veldhorst M., Smeets A., Hochstenbach-Waelen A., et al. (2008, May). Protein-Induced Satiety: Effects and Mechanisms of Different Proteins. Physiology and Behavior.

Carbone J. W., Pasiakos S. M. (2019, May 22). Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit. Nutrients.

Stokes T., Hector A. J., Morton R. W., et al. (2018, February). Recent Perspectives Regarding the Role of Dietary Protein for the Promotion of Muscle Hypertrophy with Resistance Exercise Training. Nutrients.

Weigle D. S., Breen P. A., Matthys C. C. et al. A High-Protein Diet Induces Sustained Reductions in Appetite, Ad Libitum Caloric Intake, and Body Weight Despite Compensatory Changes in Diurnal Plasma Leptin and Ghrelin Concentrations. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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Mariia Roza

Wellness researcher at Unimeal. Food enthusiast. BJJ practitioner. Chinchillas and cats lover.