If I asked you this question… “What do you believe is the biggest obstacle to your weight loss goals?” What would you say?
I don’t do enough cardio.
I eat too many carbs.
I don’t eat enough meat/poultry/fish.
Would you be surprised to know that the answer for most women is C? That’s right. As a nutrition specialist, I help many women with their weight loss goals. However, before I make the first recommendation I ask each client to take 3 days and journal everything they eat and drink. Four out of five times I usually don’t need to go past Day 1. Most women make the same mistake, not enough protein in their diet. I used to be guilty of that as well. The journals look something like this. Breakfast is coffee and full of carbs such as oatmeal or a bagel. The healthy snack is an apple and peanut butter or almonds or maybe a fruit-filled Greek yogurt with granola. Lunch is one of two extremes, a high fat/calorie dressing-laden salad or something quick through the drive thru. The day goes on and only gets worse. Many miss the key ingredient to optimal health and weight loss, PROTEIN!
Getting enough lean protein in your diet combined with exercise is essential to losing inches and keeping it off. Unless you have a medical condition that restricts the amount of protein you can have, you should be eating between .8 and 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight spread throughout the day in small meals. So how much do you need? Well, depending on your activity level, you will be on the lower or upper limits of your protein intake. The more active you are the higher the amount. So what are the benefits of protein? How does it affect our weight loss goals? Here are some facts that explain the POWer of protein:
Weight loss is simply a math equation. It takes 3500 calories to either gain a pound or lose a pound. You must burn more calories then you take in in order to lose weight. Two healthy ways to achieve this is through activity and eating smart. You actually burn calories through the digestion process every time you eat; however, fewer calories are burned when digesting fats and carbs as compared to protein. Because protein is so dense, your body has to work harder to break it down it thus burning more calories by way of a thermogenic effect.
Because protein is denser than fats and carbs, not only does it take longer to digest but also stays in your stomach longer. This is a good thing since it keeps you feeling fuller longer.
Here is one you will probably find the most interesting. According to the National Association of Sports Medicine, after the age of 35 we lose between .5 to 1% of our muscle mass every year and the only way to prevent this is through regular strength training AND adequate amounts of PROTEIN! See ladies… there is a reason why things go south! It is because the muscle that used to hold our skin up is disappearing. You MUST preserve your lean muscle by feeding it what it is made of, protein, as well as incorporating a strength-training program into your weekly activities.
In addition to lifting the skin, preserving lean muscle allows more food freedom. That’s right! Say goodbye to severe calorie restricted diets! The more lean body mass you have the more calories you burn. This is because muscle uses more energy creating a greater caloric expenditure throughout the day. Fat burns calories as well but not nearly at the same rate. So feed those muscles!
But not all protein is created equal. It is important to choose lean sources. Here is a guide of the best choices to help you plan out your meals and ensure you are eating just the right amount based on your weight and activity level.
Chicken Breast 4oz. = 27g
Turkey Breast 3 oz. = 26g
Lean ground turkey 3 oz. =23g
Lean ground beef 4 oz. =24g
Tuna 4 oz.=20g
White fish (Mahi Mahi or Orange Roughy) 4 oz. = 21g
Salmon 4 oz.=23 g
Sirloin3 oz.= 26 g
Flank 3 oz. = 24 g
Pork Tenderloin 4 oz.=18 g
Eggs (1 large = 7 g) I eat 1 whole and 3 egg whites.
Whey Protein Powder
Unlike so many diet trends that ultimately disappoint, a high protein diet satiates while cinching the waist. So the bottom line is eat! But eat smart, eat lean protein, get active and enjoy a lean fit new you!