January 15, 2014

Outdated advice to lose weight was that you had to eat less and exercise more, but this lead most dieters to be hungry, weak, and irritable – and that was if they managed to stay on their diet.

Food is a major part of our lifestyle, and as eating is something we all need to do every day, it should be enjoyable. Of course, enjoyment is not the only criteria for suitable foods if you’re aiming to lose weight; the nutrient density of specific foods is also extremely important.

Recent findings are pointing to the role protein plays in helping people lose weight and, more importantly, maintain their new weight. A diet with elevated (not necessarily high) protein:

  • Helps better control appetite and calorie intake. Cravings reduce or disappear, so satisfaction with the diet is higher.
  • Helps leptin, the hunger control hormone, get into the brain easier so hunger is sated on fewer calories.  Leptin resistance is reduced, and metabolism gets a boost.
  • Minimises the loss of muscle mass so that the weight that is lost is mostly fat. Since muscle is more metabolically active than fat, the additional calorie burn helps decrease weight and more easily maintain reduced weight following a diet.
  • Helps insulin, a growth hormone, in preserving muscle mass and assisting muscles to use glucose as fuel. It also helps stabilise blood glucose levels.
  • Increases energy expenditure and decreases storage of energy (body fat). Of every 100 calories of protein, the body burns about 20 to 30 calories while processing the protein. Compare that to 100 calories of carbs where the body only burns about 5 to 10 calories.
  • Helps the liver make the proteins needed by all your body structures, including many enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters. Low protein intake can lead to problems in these areas.
  • Helps lower blood levels of triglycerides and supports HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol) formation, which creates a healthier lipid profile for cardiovascular well-being.
  • Assists with reducing fluid retention.

To get the weight loss benefit, experts advise aiming for around 1– 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of desired body weight per day. So if you want to weigh 70 kg, you’ll need to consume 70 – 105 grams of protein per day. Consider that a 100 gram steak contains around 25 – 30 grams of protein: most people would not eat this amount at each of their three meals so the need for protein in snacks as well as meals becomes obvious.

Healthy Inspirations’ programs advise three meals per day using foods available at any supermarket, butcher and greengrocer, along with two approved protein snacks. To meet our strict guidelines on suitable snacks, they must contain the finest quality protein that is easily utilised by the body, they must taste great, and they must be good value for money.

To lose weight effectively, you need high quality meals and snacks that provide nutrient density, adequate protein, controlled carbohydrates, taste appeal, portion control, energy, and, in the case of snacks, convenience.