Losing weight and reducing excess belly fat can be a long and exhausting process to see results. But looking at a diet that keeps you full and satisfied, while helping to shed a few extra pounds, seems like the perfect starting point for long-term change.
Including more protein in your diet can promote weight loss in several ways. When combined with exercise, a high protein intake helps build more lean muscle, and “lean muscle helps burn more calories throughout the day.” Medical News Today reports.
However, high-protein foods can also “help with weight loss by decreasing hunger and promoting feelings of fullness,” says Brittany DunnMS, RDN, CD, who specializes in sports nutrition and has experience working with and educating athletes through Dunn Nutrition. High-protein diets are extremely effective for weight loss because “they preserve muscle mass and prevent metabolic decline”. she says.
A common misconception when it comes to high-protein meals is that many people want to overcompensate with the intention of losing more body fat, Dunn says. Many people think that “food sources of protein are not enough to contribute to a high protein meal plan and that supplementation is necessary”, when in reality, “whole foods can provide enough and often even more protein than expected,” she says.
You should eat “between 1.6 and 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight” on a daily basis, if you’re working towards overall weight loss, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).
“Very few Americans consume insufficient amounts of protein,” says Dunn. “However, if you’re struggling to get enough protein in your diet, here are some tips: thicken sauces or soups with mixed legumes (like lentils) or [layer] tofu and sweet potato curry over steamed vegetables.”
To look into the specifics of which foods pack the best protein punch, here are six high-protein foods to help you achieve your weight loss goals and shrink your waistline! Then, for more weight loss tips, here are the eating habits for losing belly fat as you age, dietitians say.
What may seem like an obvious choice, choosing specific meats as your protein source in your diet can make all the difference when it comes to losing fat. Lean meats in particular, such as skinless chicken, turkey, pork loin, bison, white fish, salmon, and shrimp, will contain a high level of protein with low calorie, healthy fats and, more often than not, fewer processed ingredients. with red meat, Medical News Today Explain.
When you favor lean meats, you can “limit the amount of saturated fat [you] consume less than 10% calories per day,” according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
What does this mean in terms of weight loss? When you eat more high-volume, nutrient-dense foods, like lean meat that has fewer calories (usually), you don’t need to fill up on a larger serving to feel fuller and feel fuller. stay full longer, explains Mayo Clinic.
Eating more fish like salmon and shrimp helps provide sources of iodine and essential omega-3 fatty acids to filter good thyroid health and a stable metabolism. Both promote overall weight loss by helping to control overeating and maintain fullness.
Another piece of the puzzle is how you cook your lean meats which can aid in fat loss. To continue losing weight, The Community Health Center (CHN) said “prepare your meat [by] grilling, broiling or roasting to reduce the amount of saturated fat.”
If you like a classic Italian wedding soup, Dunn recommends substituting some turkey meatballs for a leaner protein boost. You can also spice up your shrimp with a shrimp fajita salad or wrapped in a wrap, she says.
For more meat options, take a look at The Best Forms of Lean Protein You Can Eat
A plant-based source of protein that you can add to almost any meal for an extra boost – chickpeas.
“Chickpeas are what’s called a complete protein because they contain all nine essential amino acids,” which play key roles in metabolism and bodily function, according to Cleveland Clinic. The high protein and fiber content of chickpeas helps you stay full longer, which is important if you’re trying to lose weight and keep it off.
Chickpeas are also an excellent choice because they are considered a legume, which has the nutritional value of protein-rich foods as well as vegetables, according to a study published in Nutrients. The review also points out that the vast nutrients in chickpeas have major effects on weight loss by controlling the body’s blood sugar and insulin responses. Both help aid digestion and slow the absorption of carbohydrates, so you’ll be energized while consuming a low-calorie food.
One way to incorporate chickpeas more into your diet is to add a “bean-based hummus on sandwiches and wraps,” says Dunn.
Whole grain foods are another group that offer huge protein benefits. Quinoa, for example, which can replace rice or pasta with carbs, is considered a complete protein, made up of the nine essential amino acids your body needs. The plant-based protein source will easily fill you up and support your fat loss goals, helping to build more muscle and a strong metabolism.
Quercetin and kaempferol, the two flavonoid plant compounds in quinoa, also contribute to weight loss by protect your gut cells and support powerful metabolites. Having powerful metabolites will help your metabolism run efficiently by turning food into energy versus the alternative (fat). But be careful what you pair with this high-protein food, because combining quinoa with high-calorie, high-fat foods could hinder your fat loss journey more than support it.
There’s nothing wrong with eating healthy, high-protein carbs, especially when trying to lose fat. Black beans are a complex carbohydrate that is gluten-free and plant-based and provides both high levels of protein and healthy fiber. One study saw major weight loss results after including beans and legumes as the main source of protein over an eight-week period.
Study subjects found they lost a lot of body fat, reduced their waist circumference, and lowered their blood pressure and total cholesterol. Beans, especially black beans, can help lower the body’s leptin levelsalso known as the hormone that regulates appetite. With a controlled appetite and a body full of healthy protein and fiber, you’re more likely to lose more fat over time.
Dunn recommends filling a high-protein burrito bowl with black beans, grilled chicken breast, grilled vegetables and salsa. Another meal to help you get more beans into your diet is our Veggie Black Bean Omelet Recipe.
Dairy doesn’t have the best reputation for completing a solid fat loss journey, but for many people, consuming more dairy on a daily basis can potentially speed up weight loss. As for fat-free milk, certain cheeses (like cottage cheese) and low-fat Greek yogurt can meet your body’s need for natural dairy-based nutrients (like calcium) and a high source of proteins.
The Journal of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity conducted research on participants on a low-calorie diet consuming three to four servings of dairy products (of different types) per day, over a period of 24 weeks and many lost a large percentage of their total body weight.
“It is clear from our research that the unique combination of essential nutrients in dairy products has a powerful and positive impact on metabolism and weight loss,” said lead researcher Dr. Michael Zemel, Ph.D.the director of the UT Nutrition Institute, in the journal review.
The study revealed that the calcium levels associated with the reasonable protein properties of dairy products contribute greatly to weight loss because they accelerate the body’s metabolism and improve natural energy storage.
Looking to sneak in some extra protein? Try blending a well-balanced smoothie with your choice of Greek yogurt, low-fat milk (or a high-protein non-dairy alternative), fruits and vegetables, Dunn says. If you’re not a big smoothie fan, she also recommends topping Greek yogurt with seeds/nuts, nut butter, and hemp hearts.
Whey protein, in its original form, is found primarily in dairy products like milk and cheese. It is created during the curdling process of milk and cheese making and contains a total of eight protein groups and nine essential amino acids, explains Cleveland Clinic. The most important group of whey, in terms of fat loss, is the branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) – leucine, isoleucine and valine – which promote significant muscle growth.
Consuming whey protein for fat loss is highly recommended as it supplements more lean muscle throughout the body (similar to meat), which burns calories at a higher rate than body fat, Dunn says.
There’s a reason why whey protein is one of the most commonly used and sought after protein powders on the market. Although protein powder isn’t necessarily a food, it’s great for on the go and can be mixed or mixed with many staple meals and drinks that are already part of your diet (plus, the wide variety of flavors can add even more flavor to your food intake).
Here are the healthiest protein powders for weight loss.