Optimizing Your Protein Intake for Weight Loss

By Natalie Olson and Becky Bell

Protein is a superhero macronutrient, as it serves as the essential building blocks for all our cells. It is vital for our body because it aids in muscle growth, keeps our immune system strong, and helps to regulate hormones.

Getting adequate protein is essential when you are working on a weight loss goal, because it makes us feel full and satisfied by suppressing the hunger hormone, grehlin.

It also has a high thermic effect, which means that it requires calories for your body to digest, metabolize, and utilize protein. Increasing your protein intake actually increases your daily metabolic rate!

How Much Protein for Fat Loss?

Now the big question is…how MUCH protein do we need?

The most beautiful thing about protein is that it suppresses appetite, making it extremely hard to overeat. It is rare that one would find themselves laying in bed at night thinking, “Gosh, I ate way too much protein today,” while this could be the case with carbohydrates or fats.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, which is 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

However, that is just the minimum amount of protein your body needs to sustain life. This amount is not adequate for optimal metabolic or body composition changes.

To optimally support your metabolism and lean muscle mass, aim for 0.8 grams of protein per pound of your body weight.

This would be 120 grams of protein for a 150-pound woman.

If you have a lot of weight to lose, this number can get quite large and might feel unattainable. The good news is that our fat cells don’t require as much protein, so we can adjust this number based on our lean mass. In this case, aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of your goal body weight.

When putting a balanced meal together, ensure that you are getting at least 30 grams of protein per meal.

Far too many women are not consuming adequate amounts of protein required for muscle protein synthesis. If you are working on weight loss, this will lead to losing muscle instead of fat, and will eventually slow down your metabolism.

Best Sources of Protein for Weight Loss

Protein-containing foods include meat, poultry, seafood, beans, peas, eggs, soy, nuts, and seeds. When it comes to fat loss, incorporating high-quality protein foods is essential. Let’s look at some of the best!

  • Chicken breast: 34g/ 4 oz
  • Grass-fed beef: 30g/ 4 oz
  • Canned tuna: 30g/ 5oz
  • Turkey: 30g/ 4 oz
  • Shrimp: 28g/ 4 oz
  • Wild-caught salmon: 27g/ 4 oz
  • Duck: 21g/ 4 oz
  • Pork chop: 31g/ 4 oz
  • Halibut: 30g/ 4 oz
  • Eggs: 7g/ 1 egg
  • Whole milk Greek yogurt: 10g/ ½ cup
  • Low-fat Cottage cheese: 12g/ ½ cup
  • Bone broth 13 g/ 1 cup
  • Lentils: 18g/ 1 cup
  • Lupini beans: 26g/ 1 cup
  • Edamame: 17g/ 1 cup
  • Natto: 20g/ 4 oz
  • Chickpeas: 15g/ 1 cup
  • Beans (black, kidney, pinto, navy, etc): 15g/ 1 cup
  • Tofu 19 g/ 4 oz
  • Tempeh 20 g/ 4 oz

Tips for Getting More Protein for Fat Loss

Now that we’ve covered some of the top protein-containing foods, let’s cover some easy, manageable tips to increase your protein intake!

Build your meals around a protein

Once you start prioritizing protein at each meal, this can help you feel satiated and help to shadow out some of the unwanted calories.

Cook rice or quinoa with bone broth instead of water

Swapping water for bone broth can add at least 10g of protein!

Implement a high-quality protein powder

Whether you choose whey or plant-based, make sure you are choosing one with minimal ingredients and low sugar! Some of my favorite brands are Naked Nutrition, Just Ingredients, Native Ascent Whey, and Truvani.

Snack on Protein!

Rather than reaching for a handful of crackers, incorporate protein-rich snacks such as:

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Protein bars
    • Some of my favorites are RX bars and Raw Rev Glo
  • Grass-fed beef sticks or jerky
  • Apples or celery with peanut butter
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese

Switch to protein pasta

Swap your regular pasta for chickpea/lentil pasta for an added 20g+ of protein!

Make a veggie dip out of Greek yogurt

Rather than using mayonnaise, switch to Greek yogurt for a cleaner alternative that adds protein!

Blend cottage cheese into a sauce

Turn any basic sauce into a protein-packed sauce by simply blending in cottage cheese!

Add collagen powder to oatmeal and/or baked goods

Collagen is a great way to sneak in protein as it is unflavored and won’t affect texture.

Add extra egg whites to scrambled eggs

Egg whites are a protein powerhouse that can be added to any regular scramble to boost its protein content.

Key Takeaways

Not only is protein essential for health and longevity, prioritizing protein intake is a highly effective strategy for weight loss. A high protein diet helps to regulate your appetite and most people naturally decrease calorie intake when they eat more protein.

In addition, protein increases your metabolic rate (which means your body burns more calories) and helps to preserve lean muscle mass while you are losing weight. This leads to a leaner body composition and a healthier metabolism in the long run.

If you are just getting started on your weight loss journey, starting by increasing your protein intake and prioritizing 30 grams of protein at every meal (including breakfast!) is a great place to start.

Need help losing weight in a sustainable way, without all the restriction? Click HERE to schedule a free 30 minute strategy call, and let’s chat about your next steps.

Scroll to Top