You’re Not Eating Enough Protein

Nutrition | Weight Loss 3 min Read

Written by

Gustavo Ramos

You’ve tried low carb, gluten-free, paleo, low fat, and more to lose weight.

But you haven’t reached your goals.

If you’re exercising and eating well, but not getting anywhere, protein may be your missing link.

3 Reasons Why you need more protein

1. Muscle Preservation

Protein is digested and used for many metabolic processes. One of the most important functions of protein when losing fat is its ability to increase or maintain muscle mass (in combination with resistance training).

This means that calories being equal your body will spend slightly more time building muscle than breaking it down.

Muscle is a metabolically active tissue. This means that it takes energy to maintain muscle mass. More muscle means more calories burned at rest. Now you’re getting somewhere.

2. Fullness Factor

Protein also does a great job of keeping you full. It increases satiety (the fullness feeling) more than carbohydrates or fats due to its digestion time.

The longer the food is in your stomach the longer it will take before you are hungry again. Protein is king.

3. Net Calories

The thermic effect is how many calories your body uses to digest food. The thermic effect of protein is the highest of all macronutrients. This means that your body will absorb fewer net calories from eating protein than it will from equal amounts of fat or carbs.

More calories burned will lead to more potential fat burned!

Why you’re not getting enough protein

If you’re exercising and trying to lose weight, the RDA (recommended daily allowance) suggestion by the USDA may be too low for you. Yes ladies, even you.

The USDA recommends about 65 grams of protein for a 180 lb person (0.8 g/kg/d), but this is the bare minimum to meet your body’s needs.

For optimal fat loss 65 grams of protein (0.8 g/kg/d) is not enough.

If you’re trying to reach your weight loss goals, optimal intake should be somewhere between 1.2 – 2.4 g/kg/day. For a 180 lb person this is about 100-200 grams of protein per day.

And no, high protein diets will not cause kidney damage in healthy individuals.

If you have been dieting for some time you may be lacking protein.

The foods that contain the most protein are normally avoided by dieters. Foods such as meats, eggs, and dairy are usually cut out due to their caloric density and presence in processed foods.

This is a big mistake.

Before you were dieting you were probably getting the majority of your protein from cheese, hot dogs, and hamburgers. High-fat meats and dairy have their place when eaten as whole foods. But when trying to lose weight avoiding foods that are calorically dense is key.

So you need more protein, but you’re trying to keep your calories low. Let’s dive into some ideas to get more protein in your diet.

How to get more  protein

The easiest and most calorically friendly way to increase protein intake is to add protein powder to your daily intake.

You can mix a good protein powder into water for a protein shake. Adding protein powder to your oatmeal can also be very filling.

If you are already using protein powder, or your meals are lacking, try adding more lean meats. I don’t mean bacon. I mean meats that have more than 60% of calories coming from protein. Chicken breast, fish, and lean cuts of beef and pork are all great choices.

If you aren’t a big fan of meat, greek yogurt brings in a hearty amount of protein per serving. If you like peanut butter opting for powdered peanut butter may help add some extra protein. But remember, regular peanut butter is mostly fat, not protein.  

Whatever you do, don’t increase your caloric intake to eat more protein. This will be counter-intuitive for fat loss.

Eat more protein, lift heavy weights, and check out our nutrition guide to start losing weight.

The Serious Guide to Nutrition

Gustavo Ramos

Gustavo, “Goose”, is the Director of Operations at Seriously Strong Training Tallahassee and holds a Masters in Exercise Physiology degree from Florida State University. Gustavo is responsible for the education of all personal trainers at SST, and creates training materials to ensure our coaches are always at the top of their game.