Protein is a macronutrient that is an essential building block for muscles, bones, cartilage, skin, and blood. It is commonly found in animal products such as meat, fish, chicken, egg and dairy products, as well as other food sources such as legumes, lentils and nuts.
Most individuals require around 0.8-1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight; however, this may vary depending on your training or exercise levels and whether you have certain health conditions such as kidney impairment.
Most individuals can meet their protein requirements without needing to supplement with protein powders; however, these may be beneficial for athletes or body builders who struggle to consume enough protein through actual food sources. For individuals looking to lose weight, it is usually best to avoid protein shakes and stick to real food protein sources. This will also help create more bulk or volume in your meals.
Relatively high protein diets are becoming popular for achieving weight loss and weight maintenance. The reason being, high protein meals contribute to a greater sense of fullness during consumption and increase satiety between meals. It does this by slowing the rate of passage through the small intestine and stimulates the release of gut hormones which promote the feeling of fullness or reduces the feeling of hunger. This is beneficial as it can help prevent overeating and may reduce total calories consumed across the day.
Furthermore, the body uses up more energy (burns more calories) when it comes to digesting and breaking down protein foods as opposed to fats and carbohydrates. This is referring to the thermal effect of food.
High protein food sources include:
- Red meat (100g cooked) = 32g protein
- Chicken breast (100g cooked) = 30g protein
- Salmon (100g cooked) = 30g protein
- Tuna (85g tin) = 20g protein
- Chobani yoghurt (175g tub) = 10-15g protein
- 1x egg = 7g protein
Johnstone AM. High-protein diets for appetite control and weight loss – The ‘holy grail’ of dieting?. Br. J. Nutr. 2009 March;101(12):1729-30.
Barr SB and Wright JC.Postprandial energy expenditure in whole-food and processed-food meals: implications for daily energy expenditure. Food Nutr Res. 2010 Jul 2;54.
Johnstone AM. Safety and efficacy of high-protein diets for weight loss. Proc Nutr Soc. 2012 May;71(2):339-49.