Protein is a macronutrient, essential for the human body. The building blocks of proteins are amino acids, which are divided into those that the body synthesizes (non-essential) and those that cannot be synthesized and are taken from food (essential amino acids). They are building materials for muscles, skin and blood.
As for the problem of obesity, it is connected in many ways.
It regulates metabolism, since proteins are the building blocks for the formation of hormones, enzymes, and nucleic acids that participate in metabolic pathways.
Also, during a diet, adequate protein intake reduces muscle loss, accelerates recovery, and helps increase lean muscle mass in the body. The muscle is an active metabolic organ and increases burns.
Protein also increases satiety, the feeling of fullness. It is important to have it in every meal so that we are not hungry during the day, especially in an effort to lose weight. This way we avoid episodes of overeating and frequent snacking. Research shows a reduction in total daily caloric intake of 10% in people who consume a diet adequate in protein.
Protein can reduce hunger and appetite via several different mechanisms. This can lead to an automatic reduction in calorie intake. In other words, you end up eating fewer calories without having to count calories or consciously control portions. Numerous studies have shown that when people increase their protein intake, they start eating fewer calories.
In addition, it increases thermogenesis, the expenditure of energy required for the digestion of nutrients. During digestion, protein increases energy expenditure more than fats and carbohydrates.
“Emotional hunger” plays an important role in obesity, i.e. we eat without being hungry, because our day did not go well or when we experience a traumatic event. It is important to feed our body with serotonin, which is the hormone of happiness. Serotonin is produced from the amino acid tryptophan which is only found in proteins.
Serotonin’s turnover time is 6 hours, and for this reason it is important to feed our body with protein during the day.
A prime example is the study conducted by the “Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease” journal, with participants who consumed a high protein diet or a normal protein diet for 12 weeks. Body fat was measured before and after the study. Both groups lost fat. but the high-protein diet group had greater fat loss.
It is generally recommended to follow a diet rich in protein to activate the metabolism. Caution is needed by people with kidney function problems or a history of nephrolithiasis, as supervision by a doctor is deemed necessary.
If you want to lose weight, aim for a daily protein intake between 1.6 and 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (.73 and 1 grams per pound). Athletes and heavy exercisers should consume 2.2-3.4 grams of protein per kilogram (1-1.5 grams per pound) if aiming for weight loss.
Eating more protein can lead to major reductions in cravings and the desire to snack late at night. These changes should make it much easier to stick to a healthy diet.
The best sources of animal protein are lean meat (beef, brisket, goat), fish, skinless poultry, eggs and low-fat dairy.
Plant protein is found in legumes (lentils, chickpeas, fava beans, beans), soy products, quinoa and nuts.