The importance of protein in reducing body fat and maintaining muscle

Protein Advisor > Protein > The importance of protein in reducing body fat and maintaining muscle

The key factor which causes a reduction in body fat is a calorie deficit. If you are using up more calories than you are consuming, your body will need to source energy elsewhere. Fat stores in the body offer a source of energy. When utilised, overall body fat is reduced. However, if your goal is to lose body fat but maintain muscle, you will need to consume an adequate amount of protein.

How protein supplements can reduce fat

The risk with reducing the number of calories that you consume on a daily basis is that not only will your body use fat stores as a source of energy, but it will begin to use muscle tissue as a source of energy. In order to prevent this and ensure that the body turns to fat stores only as an energy source, a suitable dietary intake of protein is crucial. Reducing body fat whilst maintaining muscle is achieved by following a resistance training programme coupled with a balanced and nutritious diet including sufficient protein. After a while, muscle will appear more defined and visible as body fat is stripped away. One protein shake we would recommend for this is Kinetica whey protein.

As well as maintaining muscle mass by repairing muscle fibres and allowing them to grow, protein has been proven to promote satiety- the feeling of satisfaction after a meal. In a study assessing protein, weight management and satiety carried out by Dr. Douglas Paddon-Jones (Department of Physical Therapy, The University of Texas Medical Branch), along with a team of researchers and scientists in 2008, it was found that protein increases satiety to a greater extent than carbohydrate or fat. As well as this, in some individuals a diet high in protein stimulated muscle protein synthesis.

Therefore, including more protein in your diet while remaining within your daily calorific requirement could prevent you from over eating between meals and over time, result in reduced body fat.

Furthermore, the ‘thermic effect’ of protein plays an important role in reducing body fat. The thermic effect refers to the energy that is required to process food. Digesting, absorbing and using the nutrients of different foods all requires energy. Of the macronutrients: protein; carbohydrate and fat, protein has the greatest thermic effect. In other words, the body spends more calories processing protein than it does when processing carbohydrate or fat.

A fundamental point to remember is that consuming large amounts of protein alone will not result in fat loss. Excess protein can have a harmful effect on the body as nitrogen balance can be disrupted. However, a high-protein diet which incorporates some carbohydrate and fat, alongside resistance training will result in fat loss. In this way, the body has a source of energy from the carbohydrate and fat and the protein will aid in muscle maintenance, prevent overeating, and burn more calories when digested.


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