How much protein do I need to lose weight?
The world has gone protein mad, protein shakes, protein bars, even protein yogurts!
It all started back in the 1950’s, a guy named Irving Johnson made so much money selling protein powder that everyone who published a weight training magazine decided they needed to do the same thing.
One popular early brand was Hi-Proteen (Not a typo, that’s how it was spelt) by a man called Bob Hoffman.
The stuff was made from soybeans, thought to be a superfood at the time, even though soybeans were being used for animal feed!
The bodybuilding world began heavy advertising in the use of protein for humans, as a food supplement and not before long, practically everyone who lifted weights had used the stuff at least once.
The advertising was relentless, articles telling us protein is needed to build muscle and get lean.
We were told we need to eat more and more protein.
Three meals per day wasn’t enough, you needed 5-6 high protein meals per day. You needed to take protein powder between meals.
This is where it all started, the population has literally been brainwashed into thinking they need high amounts of protein.
How much protein do you really need?
Protein is needed to build and repair muscle tissue, repair cells and make new ones. Over the years, protein requirements have vastly been exaggerated all thanks to the supplement industry.
Tell the population they need anywhere from 1-2 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day to build muscle or lose fat and they’re going to find it very difficult to get those requirements from whole food alone.
The research is clear whether your goal is to build muscle or to lose fat, if you’re getting 0.8 grams of protein per pound of lean bodyweight per day, then you’re supplying more than enough daily protein to support lean muscle and lose fat.
I remember back in the day, when I used to chug down protein shakes, I struggled to get lean.
All those protein shakes were adding in extra calories I simply didn’t need – not to mention the problem with digesting them.
I felt a slave to protein powder, spending my hard-earned money on them when it really wasn’t necessary.
Once I eliminated protein shakes from my diet, my food digested better, I was stronger, and I’ve never felt better.
These days I train completely supplement free, the only stimulant that really helps me is black coffee before a workout – I believe coffee has strong antioxidant properties and helps concentration during a workout.
My leanest condition was achieved eating no more than 120 grams of protein per day, easily obtained through whole foods.
Total calories matter most for losing fat
When it comes to losing weight and getting lean, total daily calories matters more than total daily protein.
Even if you’re eating the correct amount of protein for your weight and body fat percentage, it’s the total number of calories that will determine if you lose fat (or not).
Protein comes as a percentage of those calories and high amounts are simply not needed.
The problem with high protein intake
If you eat high protein, then you’ll leave less room for carbohydrates and fat which are needed for testosterone production and to fuel your workouts.
Eating high protein, cooking all that meat and drinking protein shakes is also very costly as well, it’s much more practical and beneficial to get an adequate protein intake from solid food and the remainder of calories from healthy carbohydrate and fat sources.
When you’re eating a good balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats not only will you get the best weight loss results, but you’ll feel at optimum health as well.
My advice is to throw out those protein shakes and never look back, tons of fat and lean muscle has been built without them and the freedom you’ll gain is priceless.
Best whole food protein sources
The best protein sources to lose weight is anything in its natural state, the fewer ingredients the better.
Here are some great examples:
- Lean beef
- Chicken breast
- Salmon, mackerel, tuna
- Cottage cheese
- Nuts & seeds
Personally, I love to mix up my protein sources, I never eat a bland diet like a bodybuilder. It’s much better to eat healthy balanced meals with adequate protein, carbohydrates and fats.
Never resort to crazy diets that have you drastically cutting calories, restricting carbs, fats or getting you to eat high amounts of protein.
Generally, I’ll eat 2-3 bigger meals per day with a few snacks, I like to eat tuna and pasta for lunch, this has been a staple of mine now for years, because tuna is a convenient high protein source it goes with whole grain pasta perfectly.
I’ll throw in some salad items such as spinach, tomatoes, cucumber and add some extra virgin olive oil for healthy fats.
This makes up a great moderate protein, moderate carb and healthy fat lunch that’s very convenient to prepare.
To sum up protein requirements
- If you’re trying to lose weight, build muscle and get lean aim to get approximately 25-30% of your total calories from healthy whole food protein sources.
- To lose fat you need to be in a calorie deficit and it doesn’t matter how much protein you’re eating if you’re not eating less calories than what your body burns per day.
- The maximum amount of protein you need is approximately 0.8 g per pound of lean body weight per day, this is perfectly obtainable through whole foods.
- There’s no need to spend money on expensive protein powders, they’ll make it more difficult for you to get lean and possibly cause digestive distress.
Free yourself from the scams of the supplement industry and don’t let anyone convince you that they’re essential for losing fat or getting lean.
I know it can be very difficult to swim against the tide and do the opposite of what everyone else is doing, but a smarter strategy is needed.
It’s sensible training in the gym and sticking to a sensible nutrition plan that’s going to get you lean over the long term.