Did you know that a high protein diet can help to manage your weight–and maybe even lose weight? What makes protein so special when it comes to weight loss or weight management?
Several studies have indicated that modestly increasing the ratio of protein in your diet, while controlling total calorie intake, may improve your body shape, help you lose fat and improve your ability to maintain your weight. In other words, don’t eat more food, but make more of the foods you were eating, protein-rich. That is, if you were eating 1500 calories per day and only getting 15% of your calories from protein (about 56g protein)–to increase the ratio of protein, you should consume 20-25% of those 1500 calories from protein (about 75-93g protein).
What is Protein and What Foods have Protein
Protein is an essential macronutrient (something your body needs and can’t make on its own). You can get dietary protein from multiple sources, both animal- and plant-based. In fact, when most people think of high protein foods, they usually think of meat, chicken, seafood or eggs. You don’t necessarily want to overload on those since animal-based proteins are inevitably “packaged” (so to speak) with saturated fat and cholesterol. Plant-based sources (like beans, whole grains, nuts) although not as high in protein are great options too because they are rich in other nutrients like fiber, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Often times you have to eat more volume with plant-based sources to get the same amount of protein as an animal-based source.
But if you do want something plant-based that is high protein and low in volume, GN plant protein powders are a great option. They’re also naturally low in fat and cholesterol-free unlike their animal-based counterparts.
Here are three ways protein uniquely helps to control your weight, and why plant proteins might be a better choice for you.
1. It keeps you full
Satiety is the state of feeling full or sated, and many studies have indicated that protein consumption generally increases satiety more than isocaloric (equal in calories) amounts of carbohydrate or fat alone1. In other words, if you ate 100 calories worth of protein, it would keep you full for longer than 100 calories worth of carbs or 100 calories worth of fat.
In fact, eating protein before a meal has been shown to reduce the amount of calories(food) ingested shortly after2. And consuming a good portion of protein during each meal may help to stave off hunger for longer before the next meal. This is thought to be due to the release of various “gut” hormones, the presence of amino acids (from protein) in the bloodstream and energy expenditure from digesting protein. A combination of these events is reportedly interconnected with producing the “full-feelings” most associated when consuming protein whether with a meal or on its own as a snack.
Given the versatility of GN protein powders, they can be added to various meals throughout your day to increase the proportion of protein in your diet. GN plant proteins can be added to your morning shake or smoothie, glass of milk or juice, pancakes or waffles, yogurt, sandwich spread, soup or stew, dinner casserole, salad dressing, and or baked dessert. Check out our recipe section for ideas!
2. It burns calories
Protein is very thermogenic. Thermogenesis refers to the production of heat in the body. When you eat food the process of digesting it, absorbing its nutrients, and excreting its by-products all uses energy (i.e. burns calories, yay!). When calories are burned, the body produces heat. It’s not necessarily heat you can feel, in fact you may actually feel cold instead, as the energy used to keep your body warm is now being diverted to your stomach and digestive system.
Protein has been reported as generating a greater thermic effect on the body (i.e. burns more calories) than carbohydrates and fat alone. Studies have cited that protein’s thermic effect is 25 – 35% of calories consumed while carbohydrate and fat range from 5 – 15%3. This means that if you consume 100 kcals worth of protein, approximately 25-35 of those kcals will be burned during its metabolism. Therefore, your body will have technically only gained about 70 of the initial 100 kcals. In this sense, consuming a high protein diet will naturally “burn more calories” than a low-protein diet and many studies have supported this notion3.
By adding GN plant proteins to increase the proportion of protein in your diet, you may feel more satiated on top of naturally burning a few extra calories, which can contribute to better weight management.
3. It helps control your blood sugar
Your body works hard to maintain a relatively constant blood glucose (aka sugar) level. When it drops too low, you become tired and hungry. When blood glucose gets too high, your pancreas secretes more insulin, which brings blood glucose back down by converting much of the excess glucose to stored body fat. The faster your blood sugar spikes, the more reactive your pancreas will be at releasing insulin (i.e. more than you need). In response, excess insulin can make your blood sugar too low, which can lead to a never-ending cycle of tiredness, fat storage, hunger, and then overeating.
In general, carbohydrate-rich foods have the greatest impact on blood glucose (because they are made up of sugars). This includes grains or grain products, milk or dairy products, fruits, and starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn, root veggies, etc.). Proteins however, have less of an impact on blood glucose, since they are predominately made of amino acids (rather than sugars). Therefore, by eating a substantial amount of protein with carbs it can even help to offset drastic insulin and blood sugar spikes.
GN plant proteins are a concentrated protein supplement with very few carbs and even less added sugar, compared to other protein supplements on the market—animal or plant based. This means your blood sugar is likely to be more controlled when consuming plant proteins alone, or when mixed with carbs/fat in meals or smoothies. By maintaining predominantly controlled blood sugar levels you will avoid the cycle of tiredness, fat storage, hunger, and overeating and thus have greater control over your body weight.
Why Use Plant Protein Powders
|4 oz. Sirloin Steak
|2 scoops Choc Rice
Plant protein powders can be used in your diet as another rich source of lean protein. Aside from providing essential amino acids (the building blocks of body tissue), plant proteins have the advantage of being naturally low in fat and free of cholesterol unlike animal or animal-based protein powders like whey and casein. This can help to spare calories while meeting your protein needs since even lean sources of animal protein (meat/poultry) will contain some fat, particularly saturated fat.
For example, a 4oz. lean sirloin steak contains approximately 7g of protein and 1-3g of fat per ounce of steak. This amounts to about 28g of protein and 4-12g of fat = up to 220 kcals. Alternately, two scoops of GN chocolate rice protein contains 30g protein, 0g fat, and approximately 160 kcals. The rice protein provides 2 more grams of protein and 60 kcals less than a 4oz. sirloin steak. The fat calories in animal protein can be significant to someone who requires less calories yet high protein. This isn't to say that all fat should be cut out—after all, it's an essential macronutrient—however, saturated fat intake should be reduced or avoided if possible, as it's the kind associated with heart conditions.
In addition, plant protein powders offer convenience for on-the-go lifestyles and versatility because they can be used in just about anything from smoothies to baked goods. Here’s a few more reasons to add plant proteins to your diet.
Are you eating enough protein? Check out our protein calculator to find out how much you should be eating everyday!
- Paddon, et al. Protein, Weight Management and Satiety. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008; 87(suppl): 1558S– 61S.
- Veldhorst, et al. Protein-induced satiety: Effects and mechanisms of different proteins. Physiol & Behav. 2008; 94: 300–307.
- Halton, et al. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: A review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004; 23 (5): 373–385.
By: Scarlett Full, in-house Registered Dietitian