Do you find it hard to lose weight? We all know it. No matter what amount of dieting we do, instead of losing pounds we still manage to become heavier. In fact, weight gain seems worse when we try to eat less. So what is wrong?
Why calorie restriction sometimes does not work?
The classic method to tackle weight gain is simply to eat less. This seemingly simple solution sounds effective, but not to most people. It turns out that there is a point where the body tries to lower metabolism when it detects you are losing weight . This explains why the rate of weight loss seem to slow down or stop in a matter of days or weeks (commonly termed as ‘plateau’).
Why munching more protein works for weight loss?
Eating more protein seems to have more benefits in losing weight than simply reducing food intake. It could be that protein tends to preserve lean body mass (our muscles), so only fat goes away when we lose weight. Preserving lean body mass is important because it sculpts the body. You would always want to have muscles because it makes you strong and fit. Therefore, eating protein matters a lot.
So now, your goal should be to eat more protein in place of usual items you eat. In the real world, that is actually quite challenging. Protein-rich items, like steak and salmon, are yummy, but you would not want to eat them daily for months. Many protein items, like meat or fish, require some sort of preparation. Also, a protein-based diet is not foolproof, and you can still fail.
So we already presented the pros and cons of eating more protein to lose weight. If you decide to eat more protein to lose weight, here are some tips you might find useful.
1. Choose high-quality protein only
If you want to lose weight, you have to be more selective in choosing protein foods to eat. Many protein-rich items, like steaks of beef, are high in calories and fat. Eating fatty or caloric protein items, like deep-fried meats or canned fish, will not make you lose weight.
To lose weight, choose protein-rich items not high in fat and salt. Fresh items like lean meat and fish, are healthier rather than processed or fried ones. Although high in protein, limit eggs to one a day only because they are high in fat. You must also avoid nuts and certain dairy items like ice cream due to their fat content.
2. Shift to six smaller meals
There is evidence that eating several smaller meals throughout the day offers better chances of weight loss than three large ones. Shifting to frequent meals does not make you lose weight, but it helps reduce hunger and appetite . Also, it enables you to increase protein intake. Note that many protein items are filling. So, eat protein as a ‘meal’ to sustain you throughout the day. Some examples of protein-rich items include veggie salad with cheese (choose cheddar, Parmesan or Edam) or roast chicken sandwich (no mayo).
3. Plan the whole menu for a week
To make things easier, buy a variety of protein-rich foods that will last you for a week. Purchase lean meats, fish, beans and legumes and plan your meals based on them. It will give you additional convenience and cut the time needed in preparing meals.
4. Limit carbs and base your meals on beans or legumes instead
Aside from meat and fish, note that beans and legumes are good sources of protein too. Base meals around beans and legumes for a protein-packed diet that is low in calories. Some good items that are easy to prepare include baked beans (prepared with a slow cooker), sautéed peas, chickpeas (as hummus), lentils (as dhal), peanuts (boiled in the shell, or shelled), and edamame.
5. Say no to protein shakes or meat substitutes
Protein shakes are convenient, but many brands are high in sugar (as sucrose or glucose) and therefore high in calories. On the other hand, meat substitutes can be high in salt or fat. Although protein shakes and meat substitutes are good protein sources, they may not offer benefits to help you lose weight.
Your doctor can also help you lose weight and keep it off for longer. Sometimes, talking to a doctor is your best course of action especially if you find weight loss difficult or have other health problems. Still, they will likely recommend you to change the foods you eat everyday. Following the suggestions discussed here can prove very helpful so you can lose weight more effectively and safely.
 Getting past a weight-loss plateau. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss-plateau/art-20044615
 International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: meal frequency. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition20118:4
DOI: 10.1186/1550-2783-8-4 https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-8-4