Why we should stop avoiding protein

When it comes to weight loss there is always a particular food group which is portrayed as either hero or villain. Though protein is often associated with weight building and gaining muscle, it can actually be a huge ally when it comes to weight-loss. Not only does it ensure that our body functions efficiently - reducing the risk of illness - but it also boosts metabolism, helping us to shrink that waistline. 

Many of us do not eat enough protein in our diet. Apparently, we should be aiming for around 1.2-1.5g/kg body weight, since this has been shown to encourage fat loss while preserving muscle mass. So if you weigh 70kg, that equates to around 100g protein per day.

Researcher Heather Leidy and her colleagues at the University of Missouri have provided the following tips to help you get more protein into your diet, the right way:

  • Eat a protein-rich breakfast


Though cereal and fruit juice are easy options, they are also high in sugar and low in protein. This results in a sugar high – followed by a slump mid-morning, which has us reaching out for a muffin and coffee and then the pattern repeats itself. Instead, try swapping your breakfast for one that contains about 30 grams of protein and you’ll end up feeling fuller for longer, and as result, stop yourself from reaching for that unhealthy mid-morning snack.

  • Plan ahead

The report states that many of us might think eating 30 grams of protein for breakfast sounds too difficult, but planning ahead can make it easier. Instead of stocking up on sugary cereals, consider filling the fridge with Greek yoghurt, eggs, salmon or other good sources of protein. It may take a bit of getting used to, but your body will feel better for it. 

  • Add a little protein to every meal

Especially at lunch and breakfast. “We want people to know that they don’t have to consume impractical amounts of protein,” Leidy says in the report. “Most individuals only need to add an additional 10-15 grams of high-quality protein, such as eggs, beef, pork or dairy, at breakfast and lunch to achieve the recommended amount''. 

  • Consume high-quality protein

Not all proteins are created equal. High-quality proteins found in animal-based foods such as beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products contain all the essential amino acids that we need and are easily digestible. Most plant-based proteins found in vegetables and grains are considered lower quality proteins because they lack one or more essential amino acids and are less digestible. Remember that when calculating the amount of protein, it may not necessarily equate with the weight of the meat or fish you are eating. For example, a 100g serving of chicken breast contains 21g protein. 

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  • Advice from Dr Sally Norton, NHS weight loss consultant surgeon and founder of www.vavistalife.com