Protein is incredibly important for good health.
It’s a nutrient that must be consumed every day to meet your body’s needs.
The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for protein is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight, or 0.8 grams per kilogram.
However, a lot of evidence supports a higher protein intake for weight loss and other health benefits.
This article takes a detailed look at protein’s beneficial effects and provides guidance for achieving the best results on a high-protein diet.
What Is Protein and Why Is It Important?
In your body, it performs the following roles:
- Repair and maintenance: Protein is the main component of your muscles, bones, skin and hair. These tissues are continuously repaired and replaced with new protein.
- Hormones: Chemical messenger proteins allow cells and organs in your body to communicate with each other.
- Enzymes: Most enzymes are proteins, and the thousands of chemical reactions that take place throughout your body are driven by them.
- Transportation and storage: Some proteins help deliver important molecules where they’re needed. For example, the protein hemoglobin carries oxygen to your body’s cells.
Protein is made up of smaller units known as amino acids.
Of the 22 amino acids, 9 are considered “essential,” meaning they must be consumed in food because your body can’t make them.
Importantly, some foods provide better protein than others based on their amino acid profile.
Generally speaking, animal products are considered “complete protein” because they contain all the essential amino acids in the optimal amounts that your body needs. These include eggs, dairy, meat, fish and poultry.
Vegetable proteins don’t provide adequate amounts of every essential amino acid but can be combined with other plant sources to make complete protein. Beans, legumes, grains, soy, nuts and seeds are examples of high-protein plant foods.
Although protein quality is important, the amount of protein you consume is key.
Many researchers believe that the current protein recommendations may be too low to stay truly healthy in the long term (1).
Summary: Protein serves a number of important functions in your body. It is made up of individual amino acids, including many that your body cannot create on its own.
Protein’s Effects on Weight Loss
Research suggests that increasing your protein intake may have impressive effects on your appetite, metabolic rate, weight and body composition.
Appetite and Fullness
Eating more protein may help suppress your hunger and appetite for hours after eating.
Protein increases production of hormones like PYY and GLP-1, both of which help you feel full and satisfied. In addition, it helps reduce levels of ghrelin, also known as the “hunger hormone” (2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
In a controlled study of 12 healthy women, the group that consumed a high-protein diet experienced higher GLP-1 levels, greater feelings of fullness and less hunger than the group that ate a lower-protein diet (6).
Due to these effects on appetite and fullness, a higher protein intake typically leads to a natural reduction in food intake.
In another study, when 19 healthy young adults were allowed to eat as much as they wanted on a diet consisting of 30% protein, they consumed an average of 441 fewer calories per day than when they followed a diet consisting of 10% protein (7).
Interestingly, another reason protein is so satisfying seems to be related to the significant increase in metabolic rate that occurs during its digestion (8).
A higher protein intake may increase the number of calories you burn.
In a study of 10 healthy young women, consuming a high-protein diet for one day was shown to increase metabolic rate after meals nearly twice as much as eating a high-carb diet for one day (13).
Weight Loss and Body Composition
Not surprisingly, protein’s ability to suppress appetite, promote fullness and increase metabolism can help you lose weight.
In a six-month diet study including 65 overweight and obese women, the high-protein group lost an average of 43% more fat than the high-carb group. What’s more, 35% of women in the high-protein group lost at least 22 pounds (10 kg) (16).
Typically, when you reduce your calorie intake, your metabolism slows down. This is partly due to muscle loss.
In one large review of 24 studies that included over 1,000 people, high-protein diets were found to be more effective than standard-protein diets for losing weight, preserving muscle mass and preventing metabolic slowdown during weight loss (15).
Importantly, standard or high-protein diets can be effective for everyone.
But interestingly, one European study concluded that based on different gene types, high-protein diets would be especially effective for weight loss and maintenance in 67% of the population (14).
Summary: The ability of high-protein diets to decrease hunger, increase feelings of fullness, boost metabolic rate and protect muscle makes them effective for losing weight and improving body composition.
Other Beneficial Effects of Protein
In addition to its favorable effects on weight, protein may help improve health in several other ways:
- Increase muscle mass: Studies have shown a higher protein intake can increase muscle size and strength when combined with resistance training (20, 21).
- Reduce muscle loss during aging: Many people lose muscle as they age. One study found that adding a daily protein shake helped protect muscle health in healthy older men and those with age-related muscle loss (22, 23, 24).
- Strengthen bones: Higher protein intake may promote bone health. In one study, older women with the highest intake of animal protein experienced a whopping 69% reduced risk of hip fracture (25, 26, 27, 28).
- Improve wound healing: Studies have shown that high-protein diets can enhance the healing of wounds related to surgery or injury, including bedsores (29, 30, 31).
Summary: Research suggests a high protein intake can help build muscle, protect against bone and muscle loss during aging and improve wound healing.
How Much Protein Should You Eat Every Day?
The optimal amount of protein to consume per day is somewhat controversial.
Based on the DRI of 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight, or 0.8 grams per kilogram, a 150-pound (68-kg) person would need about 54 grams per day.
In fact, studies have shown that older adults, in particular, require more protein than the DRI, concluding that 0.6 grams of protein per pound, or 1.3 grams per kilogram, may help prevent age-related muscle loss (33, 34).
Furthermore, diets providing up to double the DRI at 0.75 grams of protein per pound, or 1.6 grams per kilogram, have been found to boost weight and fat loss, improve body composition and protect muscle during weight loss (1, 17, 18, 19, 35).
However, increasing your protein intake beyond this amount doesn’t seem to provide additional benefits.
One study showed men who consumed 0.75 grams of protein per pound, or 1.6 grams per kilogram, lost slightly more fat and had similar gains in muscle, compared to the group that consumed 1.1 grams per pound, or 2.4 grams per kilogram (18).
A high-protein diet for weight loss and overall health should provide about 0.6–0.75 grams of protein per pound of body weight, or 1.2–1.6 grams per kilogram, and 20–30% of your calories per day.
For the 150-pound (68-kg) person, this provides a broad range of about 82–110 grams of protein daily, depending on calorie intake.
Moreover, it’s important to spread your protein intake evenly throughout the day, rather than consuming most of it at one meal. This allows your body to use protein most efficiently (32).
Summary: Daily intake of 0.6–0.75 grams of protein per pound of body weight, or 1.2–1.6 grams per kilogram, may promote fat loss and protect against the loss of muscle mass during weight loss and aging.
How to Follow a High-Protein Diet
A high-protein diet is easy to follow and can be customized according to your own food preferences and health-related goals.
For instance, you may want to follow a low-carb, high-protein diet to keep your blood sugar under control.
If you avoid milk products, you can follow a dairy-free diet that is rich in protein.
Even a vegetarian diet can be high in protein if it includes eggs or dairy and plenty of legumes and other plant proteins.
Here are a few basic guidelines for following a high-protein diet:
- Keep a food diary: Start a food diary using an app or website that provides protein values for thousands of foods and allows you to set your own calorie and macronutrient goals.
- Calculate protein needs: To calculate your protein needs, multiply your weight in pounds by 0.6–0.75 grams, or your weight in kilograms by 1.2–1.6 grams.
- Eat at least 25–30 grams of protein at meals: Research has shown that consuming a minimum of 25 grams of protein at meals may promote weight loss, muscle maintenance and better overall health (35).
- Include both animal and plant proteins in your diet: Eating a combination of both types helps make your diet more nutritious overall.
- Choose high-quality protein sources: Focus on fresh meats, eggs, dairy and other proteins, rather than processed meats like bacon and lunch meats.
- Consume well-balanced meals: Balance high-protein foods with vegetables, fruits and other plant foods at every meal.
Lastly, this list of 20 delicious high-protein foods can help get you started.
Summary: Calculating your protein needs, tracking your intake in a food diary and planning well-balanced meals will help you get the best results on a high-protein diet.
Sample High-Protein Meal Plan
The sample below provides about 100 grams of protein per day. However, you can adjust the portions to meet your needs.
- Breakfast: 3 eggs, 1 slice whole grain toast with 1 tablespoon almond butter and a pear.
- Lunch: Fresh Avocado and Cottage Cheese Salad and an orange.
- Dinner: 6 ounces (170 g) steak, sweet potato and grilled zucchini.
- Breakfast: Smoothie made with 1 scoop protein powder, 1 cup coconut milk and strawberries.
- Lunch: 4 ounces (114 g) canned salmon, mixed greens, olive oil and vinegar and an apple.
- Dinner: 4 ounces (114 g) grilled chicken with quinoa and Brussels sprouts.
- Breakfast: Oatmeal and one cup plain Greek yogurt with 1/4 cup chopped pecans.
- Lunch: 4 ounces (114 g) chicken mixed with avocado and red bell pepper and a peach.
- Dinner: All Meat Veggie Chili and brown rice.
- Breakfast: Spanish omelet made with 3 eggs, 1 ounce cheese, chili peppers, black olives and salsa and an orange.
- Lunch: Leftover All Meat Veggie Chili and brown rice.
- Dinner: 4 ounces (114 g) halibut, lentils and broccoli.
- Breakfast: One cup cottage cheese with 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, diced apples and cinnamon.
- Lunch: 4 ounces (114 g) canned salmon mixed with healthy mayo on sprouted grain bread and carrot sticks.
- Dinner: Chicken Meatballs with Marinara Sauce, spaghetti squash and raspberries.
- Breakfast: Frittata made with 3 eggs, 1 ounce cheese and 1/2 cup diced potatoes.
- Lunch: Leftover Chicken Meatballs with Marinara Sauce and spaghetti squash with an apple.
- Dinner: 3 ounces (85 g) shrimp fajitas with grilled onions and bell peppers, guacamole, 1 cup black beans on a corn tortilla.
- Breakfast: Protein Pumpkin Pancakes topped with 1/4 cup chopped pecans.
- Lunch: One cup plain Greek yogurt mixed with 1/4 cup chopped mixed nuts and pineapple.
- Dinner: 6 ounces (170 g) grilled salmon, potatoes and sautéed spinach.
Summary: Meals on a high-protein diet should include a moderate to large serving of protein balanced with healthy carb and fat sources.
Potential Adverse Effects of High-Protein Diets
High-protein diets are safe and healthy for most people.
What’s more, a study found that when overweight people with diabetes and early-stage kidney disease consumed a weight loss diet consisting of 30% protein for 12 months, their kidney function didn’t worsen (38).
In addition, people with liver disease or other serious health conditions should check with their doctor before beginning a high-protein diet.
Summary: High-protein diets are safe and healthy for most people, but they may cause problems in individuals with certain diseases or health conditions.
The Bottom Line
Protein is a unique and important nutrient.
A higher protein intake is linked to beneficial effects on appetite, weight, body composition, aging and overall health.
To reap maximum benefits from a high-protein diet, spread your protein intake throughout the day, choose high-quality sources and balance your intake with healthy fats and carbs.
11 pounds in 22 days?
Is it REALLY possible to lose 11 lbs. of fat in 22 days? Actually yes… BUT only when you’re a level 4 fat burner. Unfortunately, most people are stuck as level 1 fat burners. So, how do you become a level 4 fat burner to lose up to 11 lbs. in 22 days? Simply eat these foods daily:
Did you know that one of the best times to stretch is right before bed? However…
What stretches should you do? Here’s a 1-minute stretch routine you can do before bed...
Lisa, Yoga Coach
eatlocalgrown / wisemindhealthybody
...easy, 3-minute exercise that completely cured his horrendous snoring! We can both finally sleep!
Today is a good day. Tonight will be even better. Why?
Because you're about to learn easy throat exercises that cure (not just treated) your stubborn snoring – in 3 minutes – starting TONIGHT!
...even if straps, sprays and even torturing CPAP masks have failed you in the past.
Most people heal their snoring in just a few minutes per day using these powerful throat exercises. And they're so easy, you can do them, regardless of your age or physical shape.
Use them anytime, anywhere... even while stuck in traffic or watching TV.
Plus the results are permanent!
Did you know that your bodyfat can become "calorie-resistant"?
True. And it's completely unaffected by even the strictest diets... and most intense exercises.
However, there's good news- Calorie-resistant bodyfat can be now removed...
It's a little-known, calorie-burning hormone we all have... just waiting for the right spark to come alive. It's not thyroid, leptin, ghrelin, insulin, adiponectin, HGH or any other "fat loss" hormone you may know. Read more to find out precisely how to unleash its calorie-burning power:
To your health!
PS - Studies show that it can also reduce your risk of diabetes by 53.7%, a heart attack by 83.3% and stroke by 51.4%. Here's more of the scientific proof...
I bet you can’t guess which muscle in your body is the #1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat. This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
If this “hidden” most powerful primal muscle is healthy, we are healthy.
d) Hip Flexors
Take the quiz above and see if you got the correct answer!
In April, 2009, researchers stunned the medical community when they reported chronic inflammation as the root cause of several major diseases.
See, every year 610,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease. Cancer claims another 584,000...stroke 130,000...Alzheimer's disease nearly 85,000 — and the list goes on.
Truth is, we now know... chronic inflammation is responsible for 7 out of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States! Hundreds of studies and scientific reviews prove it.
Fortunately, newer research shows you can prevent-even reverse-most major diseases by "turning off" inflammation. And in our new book, we show you how to do just that.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a debilitating condition-and you"re not sure what the culprit is-now's the time to find out...while you can still do something about it!
--> Grab your FREE copy of this groundbreaking soft cover book today (while supplies still last.)
Over the past year, my friend Dave over at PaleoHacks has been working on a super secret cookbook project with our good friend Peter Servold a Le Cordon Bleu trained Chef and owner of Pete's Paleo...
And today, this new incredible Paleo Cookbook is finally available to be shipped right to your door for FREE!
The cookbook is called Paleo Eats, and it's filled with over 80 chef created, insanely tasty Paleo recipes which means they are free from gluten, soy, dairy, and refined sugar.
Get your FREE copy of Paleo Eats Here. (Grab this today, because they only ordered a small batch of these cookbooks for this freebie promotion, and they will sell out FAST!)
Sponsored Health Resources
In the years that I've been working on this website project I've come across some amazing resources by some very special people. I'd like to share them with you here.
NOTE: I update these links often so please check back to see what's new!
1) Everyone knows green smoothies are healthy right? Have you heard of a “red” smoothie? If not, check out this story…
2) Forget what you've read about 10-day lemonade cleanses, 7-day detoxes with green juices and Gwyneth's gruel. All you need to do, and this is perfect for Saturday or or anytime really, is a simple 1-day cleanse.
3) This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
4) I thought it was virtually impossible for a website to be able to tell me anything even a little bit insightful after only submitting my name and date of birth... I was wrong!
5) Turmeric is amazing. The problem is - It's hard to absorb!
6) Wonder why your stomach still sticks out even though you're hammering the core exercises every day? It's a common myth that bulging belly is due to weak abdominal muscles.
7) Even if you're the most active of athletes, you may still suffer from tight hip flexors due to the amount of time you spend each day planted to a chair.
Enjoy! Let me know how these work out for you. And if you run across anything I've missed please let me know.