What to eat and avoid in a protein diet?

We explain the role of protein in fat loss and muscle gain, and how a low carb and protein rich diet can help to lose weight while maintaining muscle mass.

09.04.2021

What to eat and avoid in a protein diet?

Protein consumption is one of the most important pillars of achieving fitness goals it is the macronutrient responsible for muscle growth but what most people don’t know is that it can also support their weight loss journey. Read on to learn more about protein rich diets.

What is protein exactly?

Protein is one of the three macronutrients the body needs to function properly, together with fats and carbohydrates. As the word implies, these are nutrients needed in large (macro) quantities by the body, and they are the standard way to measure the nutritional value of food, which is why you’ll see these three listed in most product labels.

Proteins do most of the work in the cells in the body and are required for the structure and functioning of tissues and organs. Some of its most important functions are:

  • Repairing and maintaining muscles, bones, skin and hair.

  • Supporting synergy among cells and organs

  • Driving chemicals reactions needed by the body, as enzymes are proteins and they act as biological catalysts.

  • Helping deliver important molecules throughout the body, for example, carrying oxygen to the cells.

Proteins are made out of smaller blocks called amino acids, which are split into two types: essential and non-essential. The body cannot produce the first ones, while the second ones can be produced so they don’t need to be consumed from external sources. When a food source contains all essential amino acids, it is known as “complete protein”; these are easy to find from animal sources but people following a vegan diet might need to combine different protein sources in order to obtain all the essential amino acids from their meal plan.

HOW DOES PROTEIN AFFECT WEIGHT LOSS AND MUSCLE GAIN?

How does protein affect weight loss and muscle gain?

There are a lot of reasons why people should take a lot of protein during a diet, but here we show some of the most important ones when it comes to weight loss and muscle gain:

1. Protein makes you feel full

Protein is by far the most filling macronutrient and it helps you feel fuller for a longer period of time with less food. This is because it reduces the hunger hormone (called ghrelin) and boosts the hormone that makes you feel fuller; as consequence, people will be less tempted to snack and fill up with different cravings.

2. Makes you burn more calories

We can see the effect of protein in calorie consumption from two points of view. First, when changing to a high-protein diet, it is usually done together with the reduction of the amount of fats consumed and, as a result, fewer calories are consumed. 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories, while one gram of fat contains 9 calories, practically decreasing the calories consumed by half and further supporting the calorie deficit needed to achieve weight loss.  And second, consuming protein boost metabolic rate and studies have shown how people who consume more protein burn more calories for hours after eating.

3. Increase muscle mass

In order to build muscle, the body needs to synthesize more muscle protein than it breaks down, and that is where high protein consumption comes into the picture. As protein is responsible for the maintenance and functioning of muscle tissue, it is important to give the body the amount of protein it needs in order to sustain the intense workouts and to keep the muscle well nourished for their performance and regeneration.

4. Reduce muscle loss during ageing

Losing muscle mass is a natural part of ageing as, from 30 years old, men begin to lose 3 to 5 percent of their muscle mass each decade, resulting in weakness and less mobility; this is one of the reasons broken bones or fractures are so common in elder people. With protein being the kind of muscle food, its consumption can help maintaining muscle mass and keeping tissues and organs well nourished.

WHAT TO EAT AND AVOID DURING PROTEIN DIET

What to eat and avoid during protein diet

The good news are that, no matter what your nutritional preferences are, there are plenty of options to consume a high amount of protein; even if you are vegan, there are excellent plant sources of protein so it is not a problem if you want to stay away from animal protein. On top of that, although dairy products are usually high in protein, dairy-free high-protein meal alternatives are also available.

To know how much protein should be consumed, multiply your weight in kilograms by 1.2-1.6 grams (or your weight in pounds by 0.6-0.75 grams) and, once you know your daily goal, you can split it in the amount of meals you’ll have in a day; make sure to consume at least 25-30 grams of protein per meal.

It is recommended to include both animal are plant-based proteins, if your preferences allow it, and to choose foods with high quality protein such as:

  • Chicken breast

  • Turkey breast

  • Sardines

  • Tuna

  • Salmon

  • Shrimp

  • Dairy such as Greek yogurt

  • Eggs

  • Cottage cheese

  • Chickpeas

  • Beans

  • Peanuts

  • Almonds

  • Lentils

  • Quinoa

  • Oats

When it comes to the foods to avoid, it is better to stay away from refined sugar in candy, pastries and sodas; also to keep processed foods and „diet” products in general from your kitchen. During a high-protein diet you’ll be aiming at keep clean sources and keeping distance from carbohydrates in order to keep blood sugar under control.

In addition, sport supplements can help keep up with the protein intake in a fast and convenient way, as you can always carry it them with you and drink them on-the-go if you are having a busy day. For example, our star whey protein isolate Iso Whey Zero contains 21 grams of protein and added amino acids, while it is also free of sugar, lactose and gluten.

PROTEIN DIET SAMPLE MEAL PLAN

Protein diet sample meal plan

Breakfast

  • 3 eggs (prepared however you prefer)

  • 1 cup raw vegetables (1/2 cup cooked)

  • You can eat them together in a veggies omelet.

Snack:

  • ½ cup cottage cheese (or a handful of nuts or olives)

  • 2 tablespoons flax seed meal

  • 1 medium wedge of cantaloupe

  • 2,5 cups of sliced strawberries

  • 1 teaspoon mustard

  • ½ tablespoon red wine vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 6 cups baby spinach

  • 220 g of chicken breast

  • ¼ cup roasted almonds

  • 50 g feta cheese

  • 1 serving Iso Whey Zero Clear

  • 100g of salmon

  • 2 cups of spinach, asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower

  • If you want to give yourself a little cheat snack without sacrificing your diet, Protein Cream or Protein Bar are very tasty alternatives for the sweet tooth, while still contributing to your protein intake.

Lunch:

  • 2,5 cups of sliced strawberries

  • 1 teaspoon mustard

  • ½ tablespoon red wine vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 6 cups baby spinach

  • 220 g of chicken breast

  • ¼ cup roasted almonds

  • 50 g feta cheese

Post-workout

Dinner

  • 100g of salmon

  • 2 cups of spinach, asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower

Optional:

  • If you want to give yourself a little cheat snack without sacrificing your diet, Protein Cream or Protein Bar are very tasty alternatives for the sweet tooth, while still contributing to your protein intake.

German Henao


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