The skinny on protein

Protein is an important part of effective weight loss, weight management, and a healthy balanced diet. Read on to find out why, and clear up some common misconceptions about protein.

High protein eating is being touted as the ideal way to lose weight, so let’s look at why this is.

Protein is incredibly important when it comes to losing weight. It can boost your metabolic rate and reduce your appetite. There are plenty of studies that show this.1 If protein makes up 25-30% of your total calories, you burn an extra 80-100 calories every day, when compared to lower protein diets2-3.

But the key to protein diets is protein’s ability to reduce your hunger – it makes you feel fuller than fat or carbs.4 This means you eat less while still feeling totally satisfied. Sneaky.

Protein – the top four benefits:

1. Effortless energy use. Studies show that protein needs more energy from our bodies to break it down than the other macronutrients.5-6

2. Feel fuller after eating. Protein makes you feel fuller. Eating more protein can even help decrease calorie intake during the day and aid in weight loss.7

3. Lower risk of disease. Eating more protein can help protect against diseases like diabetes and obesity.8-9

4. Boost muscle mass. Protein has a positive effect on muscle mass. When people are dieting they can lose muscle if they’re not eating enough protein.10

Now, let’s get a few other things clear that you might have heard:

You don’t need to eat protein at a specific time

Before, during or directly after your workout are all fine. Research shows that when you consume protein doesn’t matter as much as we thought.11 Eating protein boosts amino acid levels in your blood for several hours, so don’t stress too much about that 15 minute window. What really matters is how much protein you’re eating overall. So if you have a routine going, you might as well stick with it.

Grass-fed, free-range meats are worth the extra cost

Grass-fed beef contains up to five times as much Omega-3 as grain-fed beef. And double the CLA, this is another healthful fat type. So, you really are what you eat, even if you’re a cow.12-13

Eating more protein won’t damage your kidneys

Our kidneys are always under stress. It’s what they do. To put it very simply, kidneys filter waste out of the bloodstream and make urine. If you have healthy kidneys there is no evidence to show that a high protein diet will harm you in any way.14 The two main risk factors for kidney failure are high blood pressure and diabetes – and a higher protein intake actually improves both.15

Protein for life

But don’t think of eating more protein as a ‘diet’, it’s a way of life. Being smart about utilizing the power of protein, along with regular exercise, will help you reach your goals. More protein combined with heaps of wonderful vegetables, good fats and less refined carbohydrate is truly a perfect way to fuel your body: for work, play and fitness.

More on protein:

Protein 101 – Everything you need to know about this essential building block, and getting more of it into your diet.

Dr. Jackie Mills (B Phys Ed, MBCh B, Dip Obstetrics), a specialist in nutritional medicine, an obstetrician and general medical practitioner. Jackie completed her post-graduate studies in nutrition at the Australian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (ACNEM) and has practiced nutritional medicine for 25 years. As Les Mills’ Chief Creative Officer, Jackie is responsible for the development of all LES MILLS™ exercise programs.

Contributing editors: Diana Archer-Mills, Sarah Wakeman BSc. Biology PGDip. Food science, Kris Gunnars.

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