In USA and other developed countries protein is more than sufficient in our diet. An average adult require 50 grams of protein daily. And in USA people take around twice that amount daily. So when you are thinking to lose fat, I am not much concern of how much protein you eat taking in your diet. Why I am writing this page on protein (!), because I would like to draw your attention to one very interesting and important issues on protein.
Vitamin, mineral, fat, protein, carbohydrate all are essential for our body but required amount isn’t same. Fat, carbohydrate and protein are known as ‘macronutrient’ because requirements of these nutrients are relatively high. How much protein do we need depends on several factors like age, weight, gender and lifestyle.
We know we burn energy all day. If we work more, burning is easy. But many people don't work that much physically. Specially those who work in desk and in computer, they may work a lot for their job, but they don't do much for their own body. But the good news is even when we don't do anything physically, we spend some energy. Truth is that if you spend 2200 calorie a day, you spend 1300/1400 calorie during your rest time, meaning when you are working in desk, or resting in bed, watching TV or even when you are sleeping. Do you know which part of your body is spending this energy? Your muscles! So persons who have more percentage of muscles in their body can spend more calories, even doing nothing. We all know we need to eat more protein to build muscles. Though don't expect that all the protein you eat will just transfer to muscles, but certainly protein help to build the muscle. Now you know muscle is very important to spend calories, so I hope you realize the importance of protein.
To spend more calories even when we are resting we need to have a good percentage of muscles in our body. By exercising you can build muscle. Also increasing the portion of protein in your food would help you to increase the percentage of muscles in your body. But as I stated at the beginning of this page that most of the Americans eat more protein then they need, if you are one of those persons, then don't worry much about protein, but if you are not, this is time you should pay attention to protein.
Body breaks protein instead of fat
Now I am going to state another very important issue relating to protein. When your body starts to suffer from sufficient carbohydrate, body breaks fat to produce energy. But body breaks protein too. When you don't eat for 3/4 hours anything, body usually transfer it to a sort of hibernation state, it start to break protein along with fat for the energy it needs. If you are in the habit of taking no foods for hours, body will start to save its fat for distress situation and start to break more protein for its metabolism process. It means you are losing muscles! And the more muscles you lose you will spend less calories in your idle time, as I stated above that your idle time calorie is spent by muscles. So either you should not put long interval between your meals (take a protein bar, or any food between meals), or you should go through some weight exercise 3/4 days a week.
Foods containing protein
Certainly meat is the prime source of protein for most of the people. But you can get protein form many other sources. Many cases we like to think protein is meat, or at least fish. You know that is not truth. Actually if you eat a 4 ounce beef steak, you may get 26 gram of protein, but it would deliver you 33 gram of fat too, most of them are saturated. But if you just consume one cup of lentil, you will get 19 grams of protein, but only one gram of fat. So choose your protein. I know you will not like to eat always lentil soup instead of a steak. But you should not depend on solely on meat and burgers.
Let’s look at the foods reach in protein-
- Lean meat
- Fish and seafood
- Skinless poultry Legumes like, chickpeas, lentils, beans
- Low fat milk and yogurt.
One thing you have to remember that unlike fat, protein cannot be stored in your body. So it is good if you take protein in each meal.
Protein and vitamin and minerals
No protein does not contain vitamin or minerals, but most of good protein sources come with minerals and vitamins. If you take lean red meats, you are getting good amount of iron. Skim milk will give you protein and calcium. Eggs, another good source of protein will provide you iron, phosphorus and zinc, and also vitamin A, B, D and E. Legumes are not only excellent source of protein, but they are high in fiber and contain vitamin B and minerals.
Protein for weight loss and flattening stomach
Protein can help you to lose weight by burning calories moreover protein can help you to flatten stomach. Protein reduces your hunger that means by consuming protein you are ensuring you are not consuming excess calories. Some hormones increase your appetite and some hormones reduce your appetite. Protein selectively controls these hormones and make sure that you are not overeating.
Have you ever heard the term ‘thermic effect’? Its how much calories are burnt to digest food. Protein has higher ‘thermic effect’; it’s between 20 to 30 percent where ‘thermic effect’ of carbohydrate is between 5 to 10 percent. That means if you consume 100 calories in carbohydrate form that means you are consuming 90 to 95 calories. But if it’s protein actual consumption will be 70 to 80 calories.
Finally, when you are enjoying fish or meat in your meal, be a little careful and know that it should be lean protein, not with much fat. As I mentioned above that there are several factors like age, weight, gender and lifestyle which will determine exactly how much protein you need and remember consuming excessive protein isn’t safe, it may affect your brain, liver and kidneys.