Protein curbs hunger, causes your body to burn more calories and helps to build lean body mass so you lose more weight.
So, how much should you eat and what are the best sources?
How Much Protein to burn Fat?
Well that depends on your height, weight and shape. Clearly, a 200lb man will need more than a 100lb woman.
50 grams per day is really the absolute minimum for anyone trying to lose weight. The average woman should aim for 70-100 grams and the average man 110-150 grams. This equates to approximately 30% of your daily calorie requirements coming from protein.
Dr David Heber, Clinical Director of the Center for Human Nutrition, UCLA, recommends 29%. This is a figure arrived at after extensive research and not a million miles away from the amount recommended by most researchers following weight loss trials. These vary from around 25-35%.
The exact amount depends on the percentage of your body mass that is lean tissue – muscle, connective tissue, vital organs. As a rough guide you should aim for around 1 gram per pound of lean body mass.
Why? Because it’s your lean tissue, muscle primarily that is responsible for most of the calories you burn each day. Lean tissue burns around 14 calories per pound at rest each day.
A person with 100 lbs of lean tissue will burn around 1,400 calories a day at rest (their resting metabolic rate) and will need around 100 grams of protein.
If you really want to get an accurate estimate of your ideal daily requirements you’ll need a body fat monitor to work out your body fat and lean body mass.
Body fat monitors are relatively cheap and available from a number of websites, such as amazon.com.
I’d recommend that you invest in one as measuring your body fat is a better way to guage the effectiveness of you weight loss programme than weighing yourself on the scales. Omron is a good make.
As a rough guide, if you feel hungry an hour or so after eating, try adding a bit more protein to your meals.
For recipe ideas to maximize your intake check out our free weight loss meal plans.
Good Sources of Protein
Select foods from the list of suggestions below. They’re all high quality sources containing the ideal mix of amino acids your body needs for optimal growth, repair and health.
Animal sources are complete, in that they contain the full complement of amino acids. Soy is the only vegetable source with a full complement of amino acids.
If you’re a vegetarian or choose vegetable sources in your diet, then you’ll need to eat soy products and/or combine 2 servings each of nuts, cereals/grains and beans/pulses at each meal to get all the amino acids your body needs.
Also, avoid eating more than 80 grams of animal protein each day. The evidence supporting a link between various gastro-intestinal cancers and a diet high in animal protein is strong.
Each of the serving sizes of the foods below contains around 25 grams of protein, the final figure listed for each food source.
Lean Meat and Chicken
1 chicken breast – 85g/3oz, 140 cals, 25g
Turkey breast – 85g/3oz, 135 cals, 25g
Lean red meat – 85g/3oz, 145-160 cals, 25g
Salmon, sea bass, cod, etc – 112g/4oz, 130-170 cals, 25-31g
Tinned tuna (in water/brine) – 112g/4oz, 145 cals, 27g
Shellfish (shrimp, crab, lobster, etc) – 112g/4oz, 120 cals, 22-24g
Egg whites – 7 whites, 115 cals, 25g
Non-fat cottage cheese – 1 cup, 140 calories, 28g
Low fat yoghurt – 400ml/14floz, 220 cals, 20g
Skimmed/non-fat milk – 600mls/21floz, 200 cals, 20g
Tofu – 1/2 cup, 180 cals, 20g
Plain soy protein powder – 28g/1oz, 110 cals, 20-25g
Soy burgers – 2 patties, 160 cals, 25g
Soya milk (sweetened) – 600mls/21floz, 255 cals, 21g
Soy meal replacement shake mix with soya milk – 1 serving shake mix and 1 cup soya milk, 180-200 cals, 20-25g.