Protein is one of the most debated macro nutrients in fitness and health circles. How protein plays a role in burning body fat is huge. I consistently get the most questions on protein over anything else when it comes to nutrition. So how much protein do you need? How much protein is best or optimal? How much whey is ok to use? Are some brands of protein better or worse than others? When should you take your whey protein? Is too much protein bad for your body? How can I get more protein in my diet? Those just name a FEW of the question I get regularly. So let’s talk protein and burning body fat!
*I will embed links (underlined) to other really useful and valuable resources in this post, so click the links to open a new tab. These are some of my favorite for research and legit info.
Protein and Fat Loss Basics
Right away, let’s get it out there… there are tons of nutrition plans out there! You can get results with many of them. What I am going to go off of is my experience, teamRIPPED member’s experiences, and a lot of the research I have read. Many of you have seen the “1 gram per pound of body weight” rule of thumb or the “30 grams per meal” rule of thumb. Those are just rules of thumb. It doesn’t mean that taking more than that per body weight, or more than 30g per meal, is a waste or will hurt you. Protein is just an energy source, like carbs and fats. Each energy source has different properties. The nice thing about protein is that of the 3 energy sources (proteins, carbs, and fats), protein is the LEAST likely to convert to body fat. Thus, on a diet designed to shed body fat quickly, proteins should be a major component. Your body can use protein for fuel and for muscle building. What is awesome is that protein requires a lot from your body to process so it has a thermogenic effect and won’t likely store it as fat if it doesn’t immediately use it.
These are a couple of the reasons why the P90X nutrition plan uses 50% protein on the fat shredder diet. It will allow your muscles plenty of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) so that you preserve muscle mass while losing weight. Plus, it will give you an energy source that is unlikely to convert to fat. That’s why the fat shredder diet works so well. Is it more protein than you “need”? Sure it is! You don’t “need” that much protein. But it helps you reach your goals faster to shift your diet to high protein for a period of time when cutting body fat. The deficit you are running does the work, but a higher level of protein protects your gains and give you the best results!
Supplementing Protein for Losing Body FatSo if you are staring at a goal of 225g of protein a day, it is probably a little intimidating if you have never eaten like this before! First off, make sure you are getting good portions of lean protein at each meal. As you plan tomorrow’s food, add your protein in first! That will show you where you need more and what carbs and fats are used in your protein that you use. Some of my go-to options are: boneless/skinless chicken breast, tuna, extra lean beef, egg whites, jerky, deli meats, etc. Most people will still need help to get all their protein in, that is where a whey protein supplement comes in!
WHEY is a supplement so it should SUPPLEMENT your diet. It shouldn’t be the only place you get your protein. For me, I tend to use right around 2 – 3 scoops many days. So about 40 – 60 g from whey.
Next, assuming you’ve decided you need protein powder in your daily routine, which one should you get? Some are cheap, some are expensive, and there are lots in between. I’ve tried cheap (like EAS whey from Sam’s Club), and I’ve tried above average cost (Wheybolic Extreme 60), and I’ve tried several in between (Muscle Infusion, O.N. Gold Standard, etc.). I haven’t tried some of the high-end ones because I’m happy enough with what I’ve used so far. The key thing to look at is the nutritional profile. You want maximum protein, minimal fat, and minimal carbs. I’m currently using Dymatize Iso-100 because it is reasonably priced and has a great % of protein per serving (24g of protein in a 106 calorie serving).
And just because one type of protein may have more grams of protein in a serving doesn’t mean it’s better for your fat loss goals. You have to look at the size of the serving and the total calories of the serving. Do the math and figure out which protein has the best ratio of protein calories to total calories. For instance, Wheybolic Extreme 60 has 20g of protein in a 93 calorie scoop (80 of the 93 calories are protein = 86% protein). This is better than ON Gold, which has 24g of protein in a 130 calorie serving (96 of the 130 calories are protein = 74% protein).
Protein spiking has been a hot topic lately. This is where companies have used filler amino acids to boost their protein numbers. In the lab, they have been found to have a lot less actual protein! Do some google searches on it. Pretty interesting. Many companies have been forced to reformulate so I hope it is not an issue going forward!
Protein Timing and Fat Loss
It’s good to have protein in your system before working out. This may require you to use one of your shakes before a workout (45min to 1 hour before). But if you already have regular food on board from a meal, then you won’t need it then. It’s also good to get protein in your system after your workout. I think the biggest goal for protein timing is to have good doses of protein (30-50g for most people) every 4 hours or so if you are able. Muscle protein synthesis is a threshold. You have to hit at least 30g to start it and then you don’t keep getting a bigger/better response over 50g or so. These MPS responses can take about 3-4 hours to level out again, so after that time you are ready for another meal!
Other than those obvious times, it is also important that at every meal/snack you fuel your body with protein, so you may find that you like to use protein powder for a morning snack, or an afternoon snack, depending on what else you use for snacks. Every one of the 5 or so times you eat during the day should have a nice protein source.
I hope this article didn’t confuse you more!! Ask if you have questions about your protein powder or how you are using it and I’ll do my best to answer!
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