“Too much protein” WON’T make you fat
Clearing the air on Carbs
And why you NEED to be eating Protein and Fibre if you’re TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT
Let me clear the air on something here. Some people have this misconception that I am anti-carbs. It might be because so many of my cooking and recipe posts are about high-protein low-carb meals and snacks. But I am DEFINITELY NOT anti-carb! Let me make that clear. However, I do believe that everyone should be prioritising their protein and fibre intake in their diet – especially if you are trying to LOSE WEIGHT. Let me explain.
Carbohydrates are used for energy, I think everyone knows this by now. Yes the body can “get by” without them via ketones (i.e. a ketogenic diet, ala Atkins), but surely you don’t want to just “get by”. You want to be performing optimally and to be awesome. Carbs are the body’s preferred energy source for a reason. Plus, carbs are some of the tastiest foods too! So if you want to be able to have awesome training sessions, and if you want to be able to perform exercise beyond just “walking”, not to mention if you DON’T want the hassle of struggling to find completely carb-free foods when you are out and about, then yes I believe you should be eating carbs. Weight loss is so much easier to achieve when accompanied with hard regular exercise, and to do this you need carbs.
I don’t believe you should be eliminating out ANY FOOD GROUP actually. In fact, believe it or not, in my opinion this includes the “occasional junk food” too. Is it so crazy to believe in just following a balanced diet with everything in moderation? Keep your calories and portion sizes under control, and you WILL STILL LOSE WEIGHT!
Prioritising Protein and Fibre
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you will know that protein is an essential part of your diet! Protein is not just important for building and maintaining muscle and for growth and repair. But protein is also very important for fat loss too!
Your metabolism slows down when your body “thinks” it is being starved – which is often the case when eating in a calorie deficit over a prolonged time. This is why when you’ve been dieting for a while, your weight loss slows and eventually grinds to a halt. The fancy term for this is “adaptive thermogenesis”. However, having an adequate protein intake helps prevents this, so it assists in keeping your metabolism going!
Also, when dieting, having adequate protein helps you maintain or even build muscle mass. This is important, as you don’t want your body sacrificing your muscle mass for fuel!
Why is this an issue? Well if you lose muscle mass, yes you will lose “weight”, i.e. you will weigh less on the scales. But you will not have that toned and shapely look that is desirable for all men and women! Nobody wants to go from being “fat” to being “skinny-fat”, where you are smaller but soft and flabby!
Another point is that muscle mass is very “metabolically demanding”. This means that more muscle tissue creates a higher energy demand. So, the more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn!
Furthermore, an adequate protein intake helps with satiety. This means you will feel “fuller”, and you will be less tempted to cheat on your diet and eat more! Protein also has a high “TEF level” (thermic effect of food). This means that the process of digesting protein burns a fair number of calories in itself!
General guidelines for protein intake are to take in at least 1g of protein for every lb of lean body mass, each day. However, this is the absolute minimum protein requirement. To date, the “upper protein limit” is still debatable. And unless you have an underlying medical condition related to compromised kidney function, research to date doesn’t indicate ay “harm” in having “too much” protein.
Plus, “too much protein” is unique to carbs and dietary fats, in that research suggests that it does not make you fat! I’ve posted the references at the bottom.
Let me repeat that: research suggests that “OVEREATING PROTEIN” DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT!
So, if you want to eat more protein that 1g per lb of lean body mass, go for it!
We have spoken extensively about the importance of protein for muscle maintenance, muscle gain, and fat loss. But another component of your diet that is super helpful for fat loss, is fibre. Fibre is found in food like fruit, vegetables, oats, barley, grains, peas, lentils, and beans. Yes, these foods are carbohydrates, and these foods are preferably where most of your carbohydrates in your diet will come from.
Additionally, nuts and seeds are a great source of fibre too. These are dietary fats, so preferably these are where a good part of your fats will come from in your diet.
THE BEST SOURCES OF FIBROUS FOODS ARE PROBABLY FRUIT AND VEGETABLES, AS THEY HAVE FEW CALORIES. FIBROUS VEGETABLES ARE ALSO PREDOMINANTLY NEGLIGIBLE CALORIES – THEY END UP BURNING SO MUCH ENERGY JUST TO DIGEST THAT THEIR CALORIES DON’T COUNT!
Fibre helps you feel fuller during meals, as well as helping you feel fuller BETWEEN meals too. This mean that it will help you eat less! Fibre is also “thermogenic”, meaning that they burn a significant of calories just in the digestion process!
Furthermore, fibre aids in the movement of food through your digestive system, as well as having many other health benefits too, like preventing cancer! The take home message is to get your fibre intake by including fruit and vegetables with every meal. Eat your protein, eat your fibre, and you’ve covered the most important elements of your diet!
HAVE YOU BEEN VERY ACTIVE TODAY? HOW MUCH ENERGY DO YOU NEED? HOW MANY CARBS ARE NECESSARY TO HAVE THE ENERGY TO FUNCTION WELL AND TRAIN OPTIMALLY? FIGHT THE TEMPTATION TO GO OVERBOARD!
However, protein and fibrous vegetables like kale, broccoli, etc. seem to be the exception to the CALORIES IN vs CALORIES OUT rule. You can probably EAT AS MUCH PROTEIN AND FIBROUS VEG AS YOU WANT, AND STILL LOSE WEIGHT!
And that folks, is why most of the recipes I post are for low-carb high-protein meals and snacks. Happy dieting.
International society of sports nutrition position stand: diets and body composition
Alan A. Aragon, Brad J. Schoenfeld,Robert Wildman, Susan Kleiner, Trisha VanDusseldorp, Lem Taylor, Conrad P. Earnest, Paul J. Arciero, Colin Wilborn, Douglas S. Kalman, Jeffrey R. Stout, Darryn S. Willoughby, Bill Campbell, Shawn M. Arent, Laurent Bannock, Abbie E. Smith-Ryan and Jose Antonio
Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition201714:16
© The Author(s). 2017Received: 25 May 2017Accepted: 30 May 2017Published: 14 June 2017
Lou Schuler and Alan Aragon, “The Lean Muscle Diet: a customized workout plan – eat the food your love to build the body you want and keep it for life”, Men’s Health, Rodale Inc. (2014).
de Souza R, Bray G, Carey V, Hall K, LeBoff M, Loria C, et al. Effects of 4 weight-loss diets differing in fat, protein, and carbohydrate on fat mass, lean mass, visceral adipose tissue, and hepatic fat: results from the POUNDS LOST trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;95(3):614–25.
Antonio J, Peacock C, Ellerbroek A, Fromhoff B, Silver T. The effects of consuming a high protein diet (4.4 g/kg/d) on body composition in resistance-trained individuals. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014;11:19. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-11-19.
Antonio J, Ellerbroek A, Silver T, Orris S, Scheiner M, Gonzalez A, et al. A high protein diet (3.4 g/kg/d) combined with a heavy resistance training program improves body composition in healthy trained men and women–a follow-up investigation. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12:39.
Antonio J, Ellerbroek A, Silver T, Vargas L, Peacock C. The effects of a high protein diet on indices of health and body composition–a crossover trial in resistance-trained men. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2016;13:3. doi:10.1186/s12970-016-0114-2.
Antonio J, Ellerbroek A, Silver T, Vargas L, Tamayo A, Buehn R, et al. A high protein diet has no harmful effects: a one-year crossover study in resistance-trained males. J Nutr Metab. 2016;2016:9104792. doi:10.1155/2016/9104792.