The Benefits of a High Protein Diet
Protein is the main building block of muscle which is why we need a certain amount of protein a day. People who are more physically active that participate in weight lifting, running and cardio need even more protein than others. However, beyond that, a high protein diet helps you:
- Feel full
- Stabilize blood sugar
- Curb cravings for carbs
Excess protein can be converted to energy at 4Kcal/gram, which provides a bit more Kcal/gram than carbs (3.4Kcal/gram). Fat, unsurprisingly, has the highest caloric density at 9Kcal/gram—this is good if you’re about to climb Mt. Humphrey, but not if you are sitting at a desk. Because of this, eating fats will more than double the amount of calories you consume at that time! Instead, opt for a snack with high protein or fiber if you want to feel full.
Quick Tip: If you're sedentary, eating fats will more than double the amount of calories you consume at that time.
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The Benefits of a High Fiber Diet
Losing weight is all about finding ways to manage your hunger and control your appetite. Adding fiber to a high protein diet makes the brain feel that you are satisfied. Fiber can also help you:
- Maintain regular bowel movements
- Reduce levels of cholesterol in the body
- Support a healthy colon
- Feel full
Let’s go into more detail about the benefits listed above. For many, fiber is what we need to maintain regular bowel movements, but it also provides you with many more benefits, too. Fiber actually helps reduce levels of cholesterol in your body and therefore, is heart healthy. Fiber also cuts down the risk of certain disorders of the colon (the large intestine) and it gives you a sense of being full, which helps you not eat as much. By controlling our appetite, it helps to then cut caloric intake. Furthermore, some sources of fiber take longer to chew which sends signals of satiety to the brain—this helps prevent overeating.
How Much Fiber Do You Need? When Do You Need It?
The timing of when you get fiber is important, too. A bowl of high fiber cereal in the morning can decrease morning cravings and maybe just help you pass that donut tray at work. The exact amount of fiber one needs in their diet varies, but in general:
- Women should get at least 30 grams of fiber daily
- Men need roughly 35-40 grams of fiber daily
High Fiber Foods
Try and eat dietary fiber. This type of fiber is found naturally in foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans and whole grains. This typically is what is referred to as soluble fiber which pulls water into it and helps you feel even fuller. The complex carbs that are often part of the profile of these high fiber foods also helps maintain stable blood sugar and energy release. Chia seeds are a great source of not only fiber, but Omega-3 fatty acids. A one ounce serving of Chia seeds, which mixes well in yogurt or oatmeal, adds 11 grams of fiber and 5 grams of Omega-3’s, and 4 grams of protein.
Quick Tip: The type of fiber matters. Dietary fiber helps you feel full for longer periods of time.
Another type of fiber is fiber extracted from plants or animals and used to add fiber content to processed foods. Although still useful as a fiber, make sure to mainly eat dietary fiber.
So after the holidays, as you head back to the gym, try adding a high fiber and high protein diet to the mix to help you lose those extra pounds and improve your overall health. The nice thing is, many complex carbs that are high in fiber also mix well with typical protein sources to make for not only healthy, but tasty meals.
Article By Jeff Pearl, MD
Dr. Jeff is a trained general, pediatric cardiac, and transplant surgeon. Nutrition has always been an important concern for surgeons in regards to patients healing from surgery. He has had a longstanding interest in health, nutrition and supplements, and been an advocate of the use of nutrition and supplements in the hospital setting to aid in his patient’s recovery. He has a history of basic science and clinical research and a keen ability to interpret studies and statistics to determine their true significance. He is the father and step-father to several teenage athletes and knows firsthand the challenges they face in balancing their time, eating habits and use of supplements. He is adamant about trying to educate our youth about better nutrition. Dr. Jeff recognizes the challenges that healthcare faces and the need for people to take charge of their own health and disease prevention. He loves being outside and is one of those crazy few seen hiking or biking in the middle of the day in summer.