Why you need protein
If you’re hoping to lose weight, build muscle, or just have more energy to power you through your day, a high-protein diet may be able to help. “Protein plays a wide number of roles in the body,” notes registered dietitian, Dr Kelly Pritchett. “From cellular growth and repair to creating enzymes, helping with fluid and electrolyte balances and forming antibodies, protein is crucial.”
Just know that the plans come with a few caveats, namely they can add a lot of fat to your diet while eliminating healthy fruits and vegetables. The increase in protein can strain you kidneys, as well, which is why you should consult with your doctor before adopting a high-protein eating plan.
The advantages of a high-protein diet
For people trying to shed some extra pounds, focusing on more protein could help with weight-loss goals. “You’ll shift more of your weight loss toward body fat and protect your lean muscle mass,” explains nutritionist Dr Roger E. Adams. Research published in 2015 in Trends in Food & Science Technology found that protein has a satiating effect. “It takes a longer time for your body to break down and digest most protein, so it delays your appetite and keeps you feeling fuller, longer,” says Adams.
Get the right amount of protein
High protein can mean different things to different people. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For a 70 kg person, that’s about 55 grams a day. But protein diet advocates believe that number may be too low, especially if you are trying to lose weight. “If you are dieting and/or you are physically active, that number should be significantly higher,” says Adams.
A good rule of thumb is to aim for 0.8g to 1g of protein per pound of body weight, advises Adams. For a 70 kg person, that’s 120-150 grams of protein a day. If you eat three meals a day plus two snacks, that averages about 25 to 30 grams every time you eat. Or you can calculate protein as a percentage of your total kilojoules plan to get 20 to 35 per cent of your total daily calories from protein.
Free apps like LoseIt and MyFitnessPal make it easier to keep tabs on what percentage of your kilojoules are coming from protein (or how many grams you are eating with each meal).