Why do we need to eat protein?
Protein is the only food group that provides us with the 9 essential amino acids to make muscle tissue. Without those essential amino acids, we would not build or make muscle tissue and would result in muscle wasting and malnutrition.
How much protein should you eat per day if sedentary,-
0.8-1gper Kilo gram body weight a day. So if you weight 70 kilos then 56g-70g a day and how much do you need to increase it if exercising regularly?1-1.5g per kg body weight a day
Should you have protein with every meal and snack?
Protein should be part of every meal and depending on if you are meeting your protein requirements through meals will determine if you need protein as part of your snacks. Remember though milk is a good source of protein and so if you have tea and coffee with milk throughout the day that counts too.
Can eating more protein help you lose weight?
Protein and carbohydrates have roughly the same number of calories per gram, however the difference is because protein foods leave you fuller for longer you are less likely to eat as much. So your overall calories are less and hence you loss weight if you are eat less calories than you are burning. Our body’s metabolic rate also increases significantly more after you eat protein than after you eat carbs or fat contributing to weight loss.
How can protein help you feel full for longer?
Foods rich in protein like meat, fish, dairy, eggs, nuts, lentils all take longer to digest in the stomach upto 4 hours before it leaves your stomach and so leave you feeling fuller for longer, compared to other nutrient groups like carbohydrates, which depending on the type can leave your stomach much quicker. Therefore protein can leave you feeling fuller for longer because it remains in your stomach for longer.
Are there risks to eating too much protein?
There are risks with eating too much of any food group or food. So yes excessive protein can increase the amount of work your kidneys have to do to filter out the amino acids and for some vulnerable groups, like the frail elderly it is can be harmful to health. Eating more than 30g of protein at any one sitting is pointless as your body with just wee out the extra amino acids, as it only will take what it needs. It has no benefit to muscle building if it is past in your urine.
What is your opinion of these two popular high-protein diets:
The Dukan Diet
The Duken diet works on the principle of 4 phase with the first phase being very low carb and high protein and then gradually increase carbohydrate. There is evidence to suggest that a high protein diet, low carbs can achieve weight loss, but theses diets tend to be very restrictive, and omit healthy foods and thus not sustainable for life. Also, it may not be suitable for people with kidney or liver issues. So with this diet it would really depend on the persons goals – short term or long term goals? Routinely I would not be recommending this diet for long term sustainable weight loss especially as the diet may be nutritionally deficient in micro-nutrition’s.
The Paleo Diet
This diet works on the premise that we eat like our hunter-gatherer ancestors, relying on unprocessed meats and plant products. So, allowing meats, fish, eggs and vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruit. Avoiding processed foods including dairy and grains. Though latterly foods like dairy and rice have been included. There are less than 10 studies currently that show promising results with the Paleo Diet in terms of controlling Blood sugars and weight loss particularly for people with diabetes. However, the studies are few and with very small numbers and therefore more research needs to be done before we can advocate this as main stream. However, some of the advantages this diet are that it increases people’s awareness to what they are consuming and encourages the reduction of processed foods and more back to basics home cooking with ingredients in their natural form. Which results in more fruit and vegetable consumption and a reduction in salt and sugar by default. So currently I wouldn’t be advocating it for the general public but if a client was happy, getting sustainable results while still ensuring their diet was nutritionally balanced and complete for all nutrients I would leave that to personal choice.
Any diet that an individual chooses to follow is personal to them and if it is nutritionally complete and they are able to maintain and sustain it for life I would support freedom of choice. In my practice, I personally have had great success with a non-diet approach to weight loss, using intuitive and mindful eating methods, using NLP techniques.