Burning Fat with Protein

You may think that burning fat and losing weight is a simple matter of eating fewer calories than your body needs, but the truth is, you can optimize your body’s fat burning potential by understanding what happens to the specific types of foods you eat and to your metabolism in general after eating.

Eating 100 calories from fat or refined sugars is not the same as eating 100 calories from lean protein or complex carbohydrates if you are trying to lose weight. In fact, high quality protein is especially effective at boosting your resting metabolic rate right after you eat it. This is due to a process called thermogenesis, which is basically your body’s use of energy to metabolize the food it eats.

Protein has a complicated structure that takes more work for your body to metabolize, so when you eat lean protein, your resting metabolic rate can go up two to three times as much as it does when you eat simple carbohydrates or fats. To demonstrate this concept, the American Journal of Physiology published a study recently that showed that people who exercised and ate a relatively high protein diet burned greater amounts of fat than those who ate an average amount of protein. In fact, fat burning went up 42% after eating for those on a high protein diet versus only 16% for those eating average amounts of protein.


How Much Protein?

A diet is considered high in protein if it contains about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. And since the metabolic boost lasts for about an hour, eating six smaller high protein meals each day instead of three regular meals can further maximize your body’s fat burning efficiency. Good sources of protein are fish, chicken and turkey breast, buffalo, and low fat cottage cheese.


Don’t Forget About the Good Carbs

In addition, since you still need to eat carbohydrates for energy even on a high protein diet, you can help keep your metabolism elevated by choosing complex carbohydrates instead of simple sugars.

The reason for this is similar to the reason for eating more protein. Complex carbohydrates take more work for your body to break down than simple sugars, though not quite as much work as it takes to metabolize lean protein. When you eat simple sugars, however, you experience wide blood sugar surges that produce insulin and make it more difficult for your body’s fat burning mechanisms to function well.

Another important reason to include high quality protein in your fat burning regimen is that muscle, which is more metabolically active than fat, is made of protein. When you move your body, your move muscles, and that takes energy. It follows, then, that the more muscle you have on your body, the more energy your body will use and the greater the amount of fat it will burn even when doing simple everyday activities.

If you want to build more fat burning lean muscle mass, you need good quality protein in your diet to do so. Weight training fueled by an adequate intake of protein is the best way to build muscle, and the more muscle you have, the quicker your body will burn the excess fat that you don’t want.

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