The most common question I get asked regarding protein is this: "Why do I need protein isn't this only if I want to be a weightlifter or bodybuilder?" Now public perception for many years was that increased protein intake was only for those looking to build a lot of muscle and not for those looking to just get in shape or to lose weight. Research over the years though has slowly told us otherwise and unfortunately too slow the word is finally getting out that increased protein is also very beneficial for those looking to get in shape and more importantly to lose weight. Protein is a major contributor to your successful weight loss. A term that is still quite uncommon is "thermic effect" of food. The definition of this is that your body increases its energy expenditure and calories burned when it digests and utilizes the food you eat. Your metabolic rate increases after every meal because of this "thermic effect" that takes place as a result of the food you eat. Your body burns a different amount of calories depending on the type of macronutrient you are eating. For example your body doesn't burn as many calories when digesting carbohydrates and fat as it does with protein. Your body only burns about 4-7 calories for every 100 calories of carbohydrates or 100 calories of fat that you eat. Though if you were to eat 100 calories of protein it would require your body to burn roughly 24-28 calories to digest that protein. If you are looking at net calories your body is only netting about 70% of the protein calories that you consume and netting 93-96% of the carb or fat calories you consume. This is significant when it comes to successful weight loss. In 2005 a study was conducted at the University of Illinois that looked at 2 diets with exercise and compared body composition in women trying to lose weight. The 2 diets were a high protein, reduced carbohydrate diet and the other one was a low protein, high carbohydrate diet. The diets were of equal calories and lasted 4 months, but they were different in the protein quantity and the ratio of protein to carbohydrates. The exercise component was a control group of lifestyle activities vs a supervised exercise program of strength training and card. The participants in both the protein/lifestyle activities group and the protein/supervised exercise group lost more total weight and fat than the carbohydrate/lifestyle group and carb/supervised exercise group. They also lost less lean muscle. This study along with other studies have replicated the results showing that a higher protein diet of at least 1.5gm per kg of bodyweight and a carbohydrate level of 120-200 gms per day can improve your weight loss. Top 4 reasons protein consumption is beneficial for weight loss 1. Satiety or fullness 2. Increased metabolic rate (your metabolism is faster because of the thermic effect of food) 3. Less lean muscle loss so your body doesn't rely on protein in the muscle for energy 4. Your body uses sugars for energy instead of storing them as fat. Here is how your body is creating these effects By consuming lower carbohydrates your body ends up with lower blood glucose levels and this helps to keep your insulin levels in check so that you don't trigger fat storage. The increased protein does a couple of things. First you are providing your body with the Branched Chain Amino Acid Leucine, which helps to control your insulin signal and the storage of carbs as fat. Leucine also helps to create muscle protein synthesis or muscle creation. The second thing protein provides is the stimulation of the hormone glucagon. Glucagon is a counteracting hormone to insulin and by elevating this hormone is decreases the insulin hormone. This helps to minimize the fat storage of carbs also. Are you eating enough protein? I am going to assume that most of you reading this do not eat enough protein since the common message is still that protein is only for weightlifters. The biggest barrier to increased protein consumption is that some are just not big meat and protein eaters, which is perfectly fine. It does make it harder to get in the suggested quantities of protein to help with your weight loss, but there are solutions. This is where proper nutritional supplementation is beneficial for weight loss. More specifically a high quality protein shake. Specifically formulated protein powder to be cold processed(more active and functional) and contain 5gms of Branched Chain Amino Acids which includes Leucine means that you can benefit from lean muscle growth, a faster metabolism and increased weight loss. Another benefit to protein that uses exclusively whey protein is some research out showing that whey protein consumed between meals may help you eat significantly less food than if you were to consume a casein protein shake or nothing at all. The reason for this effect they believe is because whey protein increases your levels of the hunger squashing hormones glucagonlike peptide-1 and cholecystokinin much more than a casein protein shake does. Now you know why protein is so beneficial to accelerating weight loss and helping you to achieve your goals. You don't have to be a weightlifter to benefit from increased protein consumption. More importantly just because you are not a big meat eater or fan of eating a lot of your protein from meat you have alternatives. End Result: You achieve the body you have always wanted! Resources: Layman DK, Evans EM, Erickson D, Seyler J, Weber J, Bagshaw D, Griel A, Psota T, Kris-Etherton P. A moderate-protein diet produces sustained weight loss and long-term changes in body composition and blood lipids in obese adults. J Nutr. 2009 Mar;139(3):514-21. Epub 2009 Jan 21. Layman DK, Evans E, Baum JI, Seyler J, Erickson DJ, Boileau RA. Dietary protein and exercise have additive effects on body composition during weight loss in adult women. J Nutr. 2005 Aug;135(8):1903-10.