Isn’t it ironic? As challenging as it is to actually shed those cumbersome extra pounds, doing so may only be half the battle. Why? Because you also have to keep them off! Many people find that actually protecting that hard-earned sleek physique over time is even more difficult than dropping the weight in the first place.
A primary reason for this is that preventing “fat regain” requires long term behavior change. Without that, your slim-down efforts are greatly jeopardized. Many factors can take us down, including emotional eating, which may be one of the greatest diet saboteurs of all.
Clearly, people who have done the hard work of trimming fat need every healthy edge they can get when it comes to keeping it off. One of the most effective tactics is so easy, it’ll amaze you. In a word, protein!
Could consuming enough high-quality protein improve weight maintenance? Apparently so, according to one research team, which found that a 20% higher protein intake─that is, 18% vs. 15% of calories during the weight maintenance phase─resulted in a 50% lower body weight regain.(1)
This is due to the fact that eating protein results in greater satiety than the same number of calories from carbohydrates or fat. This waist-slimming “satiety effect” is higher with animal proteins, which contain larger amounts of essential amino acids than vegetable proteins.
Specifically, calorie burning increases by up to 30% after consuming protein, but by only 5-10% after eating carbs, and a mere 0-5% after fatty foods.
Numerous studies indicate that people consuming higher amounts of protein not only lose weight, but actually keep it off. Participants in one research trial did so for at least a year! Needless to say, maintaining weight loss for such a prolonged period dramatically boosts your chances of staying slim for life.(2)
So we know that dietary proteins stimulate calorie burning and satiety more than carbohydrates or fat. What’s interesting is that not all protein sources perform equally well in this regard. One study comparing whey, casein and soy found that whey protein had a greater fat burning effect than the other protein sources. The study also found that subjects liked the whey better, which makes compliance easier.(3)
Again, numerous factors play into weight regain. But it is by no means inevitable! One of the smartest habits you can cultivate is to start your day with an antioxidant-rich, nutrient-dense, whey protein shake. Enjoying 20 to 40 grams of this high-grade, easily assimilated protein each morning may well be your best stay-trim “ace in the hole.”
1 Br J Nutr. 2005 Feb;93(2):281-9.
2 Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2011 Mar;81(2-3):125-33.
3 Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Mar;93(3):525-34. Epub 2011 Jan 12.