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How to Load Up on Protein to Lose Weight

This article was written by Lizzie Fuhr and Michele Foley and repurposed with permission from POPSUGAR Fitness.

When you're on a weight-loss journey, eating adequate protein is essential to your success. Many people start to shed pounds with ease once they increase the amount of protein in their diet since high-protein foods take more work to "digest, metabolize, and use, which means you burn more calories processing them," says Esther Blum, R.D. A longer digestion time also means that you stay fuller longer, unlike the crash-and-burn effect that comes from eating fatty foods and refined carbs.

Beyond giving your metabolism a boost and keeping you satisfied, one study has shown that in addition to a regular exercise routine, doubling your protein intake (as recommended by the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowances) may be the key to losing fat pounds without dropping muscle mass. This is important since muscle burns more calories in the body than fat. In short, if you're serious about weight loss, you've got to take protein seriously.

Not positive you're getting enough protein in your life? Read up, incorporate these tips to your daily diet, and start seeing results!

How Much You Should Eat
To make sure you're getting the right amount of protein in your diet, you have to know what your body requires! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's average requirement of protein for women ages 19 to 70 is 46 grams per day, but this is not the hard-and-fast number to follow—especially if you're active. Your recommended daily protein intake depends on a number of factors, including your weight, your activity level, and whether or not you're pregnant.

Check out this handy chart to find the magic number that will support your personal goals.

Foods You Should Buy
Once you've determined the amount of protein you need per day, it's time to look at the best foods to incorporate into your diet. When it comes to weight loss, meat eaters should always opt for lean protein sources since they're significantly lower in fat. The leanest poultry pick is white meat with no skin, and if you're concerned that red meat is off-limits, you'll be glad to know that there plenty of other lean red meat options that support weight loss.

If you're new to a vegan or vegetarian diet, it's important to be fastidious about hitting your recommended protein every day. Read up on the best vegetarian protein sources and the best vegan options to make sure you're getting enough of these foods in your diet.

When To Fuel Up
Strength training is an essential part of any sustainable weight-loss routine, and how you fuel your body after your workout can have profound effects on your body's recovery. A tough strength-training session causes slight tears in your muscle fibers, and when your body heals the fibers in your muscles strengthen, grow, and become more defined. In order for this process to happen, your body needs the amino acids in proteins to rebuild your damaged muscle tissue.

According to Tim Rich—a fitness manager at Crunch Gym—anyone doing endurance or strength training needs at least 10 grams of protein right after an intense workout to make sure the body receives the proper nutrients to aid in muscle repair and recovery. This is important to keep in mind as you're choosing the perfect post-workout snack.

Nike Master Trainer Marie Purvis recommends 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up. This boost of energy helps you perform at your best, while keeping fatty cravings at bay. If you're concerned about how you'll ever be able to eat that much protein when you first wake up, blend up this quick banana bread smoothie that meets her requirements.

More from POPSUGAR Fitness:
9 Surprising Reasons You're Not Losing Weight
Burn More Fat With 5 Surprisingly Simple Expert Tips
Why a Little Hunger Is OK When Dieting

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