Will Protein Help You Lose Weight? By Baraa El Sabbagh, Sports Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, and Registered Dietician
If you’ve always wondered what role protein plays in weight loss and overall health, I’m here to tell you everything. I’m Baraa El Sabbagh, registered dietitian, personal trainer, and sports nutritionist in Dubai. I’m going to fill you in on this sometimes confusing topic of protein, PLUS as a bonus, I’m going to share one juicy tip towards the end:
How many grams of protein should you eat based on your weight?
If you’re not into reading, you can always get this info through the B for Better Health podcast, look for episode 62: Will Protein Help You Lose Weight?
Also, just a little reminder that whenever you have questions about anything from protein, carbs, fats, or even workouts, you can reach me on my Facebook group: It’s called B’s Workout App. There’s a lovely community there, and the information is super effective in helping you reach your goals.
What Is Protein?
20% of your body is made up of protein. It’s the second largest component in the body after water, which makes up 60%. Every cell in our body is using protein for some sort of function that helps us survive. How is protein created? Through amino acids. Amino acids can be made by the body, but not enough, so we need to eat certain types of food to reach our needs.
Why Do We Need Protein?
Muscle is made from protein. When you take in the RIGHT amount, you will see MORE physical progress and results. The muscles will grow, strengthen, and be able to repair themselves.
Protein reduces your appetite and hunger, making you feel fuller and puts an end to those cravings.
- Protein will help boost your metabolism and burn more fat. Protein is one of those foods with a high thermic effect (TEF for short.) The thermic effect of food is related to each meal you eat and the energy it takes to digest, absorb, transport, metabolise and store the nutrients you just consumed. Interestingly enough, when you consume a diet higher in protein, you burn more calories per day due to its thermic effect compared to eating a diet higher in carbs or fats.
What Are Healthy Sources Of Protein?
- Eggs are a great example of a healthy protein source. They can keep you satisfied for a while, so if you’re getting ready for a long day and you might not make it home for lunch, go for eggs, avocado and toast at breakfast. How satisfying is that?!
Another source for protein can be meat. We usually hear some types of meat will increase heart problems such as higher blood cholesterol and blood pressure.
That’s true when it comes to processed and fatty meats that are filled with hormones and preservatives. It’s also true if you consume a large amount of fatty red meat more than 1-2 times per week.
However, lean, white, and hormone-free meats are not the ones you should worry about. Rather it’s the fatty red meat that can cause these issues. The great thing with these sources is that you’re getting a rich source of protein, iron, and zinc. We need iron so our red blood cells can transport oxygen around our bodies. We need zinc to help fight diseases and boost our immunity.
Dairy lovers will enjoy this (and you can definitely say I’m a dairy lover since yogurt is usually my go-to breakfast and snack). Dairy is a very low calorie but high protein option. Other dairy sources are milk and cheese.
The cool thing about dairy is its high in protein, calcium, and fortified with vitamin D. You’ll be able to strengthen your bones and muscles through the protein in dairy, and you’ll also be getting vitamin D, which helps prevent osteoporosis.
Whey protein (which can fall under the dairy category) is also a great source. You may have seen this on my Instagram a couple of weeks ago breaking down what exactly whey protein is and how to choose the right one.
The best part about whey protein is it’s natural! It doesn’t have hormones like testosterone that bulk you up.
The Truth Behind Protein Bars
I get asked a lot if protein bars are a good alternative when you’re on the go. As you know, there’s plenty of options for these bars, especially in Dubai. But as a dietician that’s focused on whole foods and getting our protein from food sources, I have to say they aren’t my first choice for my protein intake.
Protein bars are the ones made up of at least 10 grams of protein but they are usually filled with unnecessary ingredients to make them taste like candy bars. So most of the time, they’ll be quite high in fats like palm fats and lots of artificial flavoring.
If you are enjoying protein bars and having them frequently, I would suggest looking for ones that are within your needs for the day. So if you need 1500 calories per day, keep in mind that the average bar is around 200 calories. In comparison, basic whey protein powder would contain 120 calories and 20 grams of protein.
Which Plant Based Protein Should You Go For?
If you’re going for Meatless Mondays or you’re giving veganism a try, you’re probably on the lookout for some plant based protein options. That would include anything from beans, soy protein, tofu, seitan or nuts. I talk all about this source of protein in a podcast episode on B for Better Health, and we cover everything to do with vegetarian and vegan diets. Make sure to subscribe in order not to miss it!
When Should You Be Having Protein?
Always have protein AFTER a workout, with a type of carb. You can find out more about this on a blog post that covers everything to do with food and working out.
(There’s also lots of examples of what meals to have!)
Have protein at every meal. Trust me guys, if you stay within the calories per day and get enough protein, you’ll be seeing an absolute transformation in your body.
- What if it’s 5 o’clock and you’re hungry? Have it as a snack if you didn’t get enough at a meal. Anything from cheese to peanut butter can satisfy your craving for something sweet and keep you away from non filling, high calorie foods.
How Much Protein Should You Be Eating?
Each body is different. Your needs are different from that of an athlete. If you’re working out 3-4 times per week, i recommend having 1 and a half grams of protein per kilo of body weight. While an athlete’s portion would be 2 grams per kilo of their body weight and often times depending on the intensity, it can even be higher.
So if you weigh 55 kilos, you workout 3-4 times per week, you will need 82.5 grams of protein a day. That’s not 82 grams of MEAT, that's 82 grams of net protein.
It’s worth adding that the amount per meal matters, some studies show that your body doesn’t absorb much more than 30 grams at a time, so that’s why it's important to spread it out.
What You Should Do Next
Figure out how much protein your body needs, and start working on giving it that amount every day. Pick from the good sources of protein and incorporate them into every meal! If you’re confused about anything or you have more questions, DM me or get in touch through here, I’d love to help out.
Thanks for checking out blog post guys, whether you’re in Dubai or elsewhere in the world, I encourage you to check out my website for a chance to learn more about living the best life you can. I’ve got an exciting 8 week program that includes both nutrition and exercise plans for your transformation. Check it out!