For those who are looking to gain weight, bulk up, or simply maintain an optimal weight, protein has got your back on this as well. Let’s look at some of the ways protein can help you meet your body composition goals, whatever they may be. You can take protein into your diet through your food, and can supplement this with protein powders if necessary. Active.com has produced a Best Protein Powders for Women guide which is definitely worth a look if you are trying to increase your protein intake.
How Does Protein Help With Weight Loss?
Protein is essential for those looking to make progress on their weight loss journey. This valuable macronutrient helps to regulate our hormones involved in appetite, specifically by increasing our satiety hormones and decreasing our hunger hormones .
This means we feel full more quickly and are less likely to overeat. Protein also burns more calories during digestion than other macronutrients, such as carbs or fat.
Because of this, it is believed that a high protein diet can help to boost metabolism. In fact, some studies suggest a high protein diet can increase your calorie burn by 80-100 extra calories per day [2, 3].
How Can Protein Help with Weight Gain?
It may seem surprising that protein can help with both weight loss and weight gain, but it’s true. For those who are looking to add on the pounds instead of shedding them, boosting your protein intake can help you do the trick more healthily.
When you are looking to gain weight, you don’t want to just increase your intake of junk foods. Instead, focus on increasing calories from good foods. This means skipping piling on spoonsful of ice cream and potato chips at every meal and adding more calories from protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products instead.
Protein supports muscle growth which allows those pounds added to be more muscle versus fat. Because protein is highly filling, remember to break up your protein throughout the day. You may consider going from 3 meals a day to 5-6 smaller meals to get more in comfortably.
Why Might Someone Want to Gain Weight?
There are many reasons someone may choose to gain weight. Just like losing weight, some would prefer their body to be larger. They may have been recommended by a physician or specialist to gain weight for health reasons or maybe they are looking to build more strength and in doing so need to add some additional pounds to their frame.
Being underweight can have a lot of risks, including loss of muscle mass, weakness, brittle hair, and nails, dry skin, infertility, osteoporosis, decreased immunity, nutrient deficiencies, and more [4, 5].
Although it seems more common for people to be looking to lose weight, gaining weight is still a challenge for many people, especially when trying to do it healthfully.
How Much Protein Do I Need?
The amount of protein each person needs will vary by individual. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, adults should consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram body weight, or .35 grams per pound body weight, daily .
For example, a person who weighs 165 pounds (75 kilograms), should consume about 60 grams of protein per day minimum.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, Those looking to increase muscle mass with physical activity and diet should aim to consume between 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram body weight, or 0.5 to 0.8 grams per pound, daily .
How to Increase Protein Intake
To increase your protein intake, plan to consume protein-rich food at every meal and snack. Be sure to spread out your protein sources and servings throughout the day for better absorption and to avoid filling up.
Protein-rich foods include meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy, tofu, and tempeh. For those following a plant-based diet, or who dislike a lot of protein foods and struggle to get enough protein in, consider a supplement. Protein supplements come in a variety of forms, including powders, shakes, bars, and more.
Some of the easiest and most versatile protein supplements to use are protein shakes, such as this delicious chocolate plant-based protein shake from Naked Nutrition.
Made from peas and packed with 20 grams of plant-based protein and only 4 grams of sugar per serving, these shakes are great for those with dietary restrictions or allergies without sacrificing flavor. When it comes to pea protein vs whey, pea is comparable to whey due to its superior amino acid profile.
Protein is essential and incredibly versatile. Whether you are looking to lose weight, gain weight, build muscle, or maintain a healthy weight, a protein-rich diet can help to get you there.
Most protein-rich foods come from animal sources, however, for those who struggle to get enough protein in, there are supplements available to make it easier. If you’ve never tried a high-protein diet before, now is a good time to start.