How much protein do I need to lose weight?

Protein is vital for everyone, but how much protein do we need to lose weight? Can you get this from food alone or is there a role for protein powders too? Protein powders are commonly associated with nutritional supplements for athletes. However, depending on how much protein you consume through food, you may need to add extra to your diet which can be done using protein powder.   

In this blog post, we’ll look into what protein is, why it is essential and also help you calculate your individual protein requirements. You can take this into consideration when looking at the protein content in various foods. Furthermore, we’ll talk about whether adding protein powder into your diet could be beneficial and guide you how to make the right choices for you. 

What is protein?

Protein is an important nutrient essential for daily well-being. It is classed as a macronutrient, alongside carbohydrates and fats, because we need more of these, as opposed to  micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) which are still important. It’s the macronutrients that help give us the energy we need each day.

protein is made up of amino acids and can help us to lose weight

Protein is made up of amino acids, which are building blocks essential for bodily functions. There are 20 different amino acids, 9 of them are essential and we have to get these from the diet each day because our body can’t make them, so they need to be provided as a steady supply each day. Proteins that contain all 9 essential amino acids are called “complete proteins” and those that are low in 1 or 2 are called incomplete proteins. 

For those of us over 40 who are looking for weight loss, protein is vital. Not only does it support weight loss but it also plays a critical role in supporting various bodily functions. Proteins are needed for our muscles, bones, skin, hair, enzymes, blood, hormones, and more. Protein promotes bone and muscle mass, enhancing strength, helping to heal injuries, and supporting the immune system. Research suggests that maintaining an adequate daily protein intake helps to remain fuller for longer potentially helping in weight management.

How much protein do you need everyday to lose weight?

For those over 40, and looking to lose weight, understanding how much protein you need is vital. Generally it is advised to consume a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day.  I often advise my clients to include between 0.8 grams – 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, often more if you are strength training. So putting that into perspective, if you weigh 70 kg (154 lb) you should aim for 56 grams – 84 grams of protein daily. 

strength training and your protein needs

If you are an athlete or are very physically active, you need more nutrients for energy—including more protein for recovery. Research shows that eating high-quality protein within two hours after exercise can enhance muscle repair and growth. 1.2-2.0 grams of protein every day. This means that a 70 kg (154 lb) athlete needs 84-140 grams of protein every day, while a 90 kg (198 lb) athlete needs 108-180 grams of protein every day.

The Office of Dietary Supplements wrote about the safety of high-protein diets, surpassing the recommended daily allowance by two to three times – corroborating that such diets don’t pose risks to kidney health, kidney function, hydration levels, or negatively impact bone health.

How much protein is in food?

When we think of protein rich foods we tend to think of meat, eggs, seafood, and dairy as the only source. However, protein is not just found in animal products. Plant based foods such as legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains, contain some great protein levels. Even fruits & vegetables can help top up your protein intake. .

Here's a list of some protein rich foods.

  • 33 g protein in 4 oz of sirloin steak
  • 30 g protein in 4 oz of grilled sockeye salmon
  • 28 g protein in 4 oz skinless chicken thigh
  • 22 g protein in 4 oz ham
  • 18 g protein in 1 cup of cooked lentils
  • 8 g protein in 8 oz milk
  • 6 g protein in 1 oz of dry roasted almonds

When it comes to protein, animal sources have all the essential amino acids, making them complete proteins. Some plant-based options like soy, quinoa, and chia seeds also fall into this category. If you’re relying on other plant sources that may lack a few amino acids, just mix things up by eating various plant foods each day to get all the essential amino acids you need.

You can see a list of complete plant proteins here

An added bonus: Choosing more plant-based foods isn’t just good for your health; it’s also great for the planet. Plants come packed with different nutrients, like fibre, and they don’t have cholesterol. Plus, making plant-based food reduces the release of greenhouse gases, giving our planet a little tender love. 

Many people can get enough protein by eating a variety of nutritious foods throughout the day. However, as with any nutrient, if you aren’t able to get enough from your diet, you may benefit from supplementation with a protein powder.  

Selecting the right protein powder for you

Protein powders make for handy protein sources and often include extra vitamins, minerals, sweeteners, and more. Various protein powders may derive their protein from different sources, and the protein quantity per scoop can be different products. However, it is important to check the quality of ingredients in all supplements (including protein powders) to make sure there are no contaminants like heavy metals.

So please read the nutrition labels carefully and if not sure seek advice from a healthcare professional you trust before making any alterations to your supplement routine.

 

choosing the right protein powders for you

A quick look at some common protein powders

Whey & Casein Powders

Both whey and casein proteins are derived from milk, making them unsuitable for individuals with dairy allergies or those intentionally avoiding dairy. These animal-based proteins provide all the essential amino acids necessary for your body. Notably, whey, being water-soluble, is absorbed more rapidly compared to casein.

Soy Protein Powders

Soy stands out among plants for its high protein content, offering all essential amino acids, classifying it as a complete protein. Consequently, soy-based protein powders have gained popularity, particularly among individuals steering clear of dairy.

Collagen Protein Powder

Collagen, the predominant protein naturally occurring in your body, plays a crucial role in maintaining the structure of bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and cartilage. Notably, collagen supplements, including protein powders, are sourced from animals.

Pea Protein Powder

For those steering clear of dairy and soy, pea protein powders are a great alternative. Abundant in 8 of the 9 essential amino acids, pea protein is just low in one amino acid, methionine. To get a complete protein profile, pea protein can be combined with rice or animal-based proteins.

For those who are training there is an interesting article here comparing Pea vs Whey when doing High Intensity Functional Training. 

Hemp Protein Powders

While hemp protein is low in two essential amino acids, lysine and leucine, it compensates by containing some of the essential omega-3 fatty acids.

(This is the website I use for my clients supplements as I can guarantee the quality. You are more than welcome to use this too – you need to enter “Sonia Hollis” as the practitioner (and you can use my discount code SOHOL010)

Final Thoughts....

In conclusion, protein plays a pivotal role in our health particularly for weight loss. Protein can be found in so many different foods – and not just animal based foods. Many of us eat enough protein during the day – without the need for supplementation with protein powder (I believe in a food first approach) .  

However, it’s essential to recognise that some people need more protein, especially if you are exercising. 

 If you’d like some help in putting together some recipes with higher protein then take a look below. 

High Protein Recipe Packs

bundle protein recipe packs

Need some help with some high protein recipes?

24 Recipes 

  • Higher Protein Breakfast Recipes – 6 breakfast recipes containing 25g or more protein.
  • High Protein Recipe Pack – 9 Low carb, High Protein recipes
  • High Protein Breakfast recipes – 6 recipes containing 15g or more protein

Want to be the first to know of offers and nutrition goodies?

References: 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25926512/  The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK594226/  Nutrition: Macronutrient Intake, Imbalances, and Interventions

Cleveland Clinic. (2021, January 29). 13 of the best vegetarian and vegan protein sources. Health Essentials. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/13-of-the-best-vegetarian-and-vegan-protein-sources/

Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. (n.d.). Collagen. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/collagen/

Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. (n.d.). Protein. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/

Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. (n.d.). Workout supplements. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/workout-supplements/

Hunnes, D. (n.d.). The case for plant based. UCLA Sustainability. https://www.sustain.ucla.edu/food-systems/the-case-for-plant-based/

Mayo Clinic. (2020, November 13). Whey protein. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-whey-protein/art-20363344

Medical News Today. (2018, September 18). What are the benefits of protein powder? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323093

Office of Dietary Supplements. (2022, June 2). Dietary supplements for exercise and athletic performance. National Institutes of Health. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/ExerciseAndAthleticPerformance-HealthProfessional/

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