Keeping your body weight down is important for reducing the long term effects of being overweight or obese. Healthy eating and cutting down consumption of saturated fats can reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as lowering blood sugar and blood pressure.
Health and fitness is taking over the world, with more lose-weight gain-muscle-quick schemes, none of which actually work. But with good nutrition and hard work in the gym, you can lose weight.
A key to helping you lose weight is your diet. After all, it's simply a game of calories in being less than the calories out! We often focus on reducing fat and sugar intake (which are both important!), but until recently, the benefits of increasing your protein intake weren't well understood.
What is Protein?
Proteins are large molecules made up of amino acids. Amino acids are needed by the body to function in everyday life and play a number of important bodily functions, one of which is for building muscle.
In total there are 20 amino acids, yet only 11 of these are are naturally produced in the body. Called non-essential amino acids, these amino acids can be synthesised readily by your body from other nutrients.
The other, more interesting amino acids are known as essential amino acids and are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. These can't be produced naturally in the body and need to be part of our diet.
Protein for Weight Loss
Here's why everyone in the fitness industry talks about protein: protein is important as it works to build and repair damaged muscles. This means that protein helps us to recover more efficiently and accelerate the process of protein synthesis. The way muscles grow, by repairing small tears on cellular level during exercise, requires the amino acids which are present in protein, so consuming more can aid exercise and fitness goals.
But just as importantly, protein is key for weight loss.
Unlike carbohydrates, protein is also super effective at making you feel fuller for longer. It takes considerable time to digest, and is significantly lower in calories than fat or sugar. This is one of the reasons why whey protein bars are considered great meal replacements, they're typically reasonably low on sugar, yet keep you full, allowing you to consume fewer calories each day.
More protein will also help to ensure you don’t lose important muscle while burning excess fat. Naturally you will lose some muscle, but maintaining muscle is not only important from a visual point of view, it will also help to keep you healthy.
It is not as simple as eat more protein and experience weight loss and muscle growth. Alongside a diet plan and workout regime, you also need to consider the quality of protein, the different sources of protein and protein content. Ultimately protein and weight loss are connected, but there are a number of other factors you need to consider to achieve long term health benefits.
Weight Loss On A Vegan Diet
Protein and weight loss are a match made in heaven, but what about those on a vegan diet? Well protein is even more important for you. Not only do you need it to hit the weight loss goals, but those on plant based diets might find they need to work extra hard to get enough.
Cutting meat out of your diet and consuming no animal products can severely reduce the amount of protein you consume. Fruits and vegetables are super healthy, and so is cutting out all of that processed food, but unfortunately protein is still lacking, so supplementing is important.
Due to the healthier nature of a vegan diet weight loss should be easier. You will be consuming more of what you should and less of what you shouldn’t. Combine this with a great exercise regime and losing weight should seem easy. However it is important to make sure you are getting the correct vitamins and minerals, and hitting all of your nutritional daily recommendations. This leads directly to our next question...
Is Veganism Safe For Losing Weight?
The benefits that come with a vegan diet are well known, and although some supplementation may be needed, a person can easily eat vegan their entire life. But there are some potential drawbacks to veganism, especially when looking at its effect on the body.
Cutting meat out of the diet as well as other animal derivatives like dairy products, can lead to those following a vegan diet with issues if not managed carefully. Vegan food is of course plant based, but some vital vitamins, minerals and nutrients can only be consumed through meat. This can leave individuals with deficiencies in key areas such as Vitamin B12, Iron, Calcium and Vitamin D.
When dieting you want to be working at a caloric deficit (burning more calories than you eat), and for vegans that can be a dangerous game as they need to eat a wider variety to get everything they need into their diet. These key vitamins can be supplemented however, a multivitamin is a great way to do it. Protein becomes even more important to ensure there is no breakdown of muscle in the body.
There are plenty of vegan recipes to help create your perfect vegan meal, and although supplementation might be needed, it can easily be done. So although the risks are there while losing weight on a vegan diet, as long as you plan well you can execute it perfectly.
Cut The Fat
So there we have it, protein is key for anyone trying to lose weight and get a bit healthier. It helps to repair and build our muscles and is also effective at making you feel fuller for longer. A great meal replacement, it can keep you going for longer periods and lead to you consuming less calories each day. Getting the correct amount of protein per day is vital for a healthy and balanced diet so make sure you are getting yours too!