How Protein Deficiency Causes Weight Gain
If you’re having trouble losing weight, suffer from cravings, or lack muscle tone, you might suffer from a protein deficiency. If you’re losing weight without consuming enough protein, you can bet that your starving body is cannibalizing your muscles.
That’s why your brain is screaming at you to send it more of this essential nutrient. The idea behind any solid weight-loss plan is to lose fat and not muscle. Protein deficiency can lead to weight gain, but even if it doesn’t, you can bet it is bad news. Every cell you carry around in your body needs protein.
You might want to glance at this article in Runner’s World about protein — or what it calls the “most important nutrient” that you can consume. They also include a U.S. Army study on protein, associating adequate intake with lower BMIs and other health markers.
How Much Protein Should You Eat?
The FDA says that most Americans eat enough protein; however, I wonder if this is really true. They give a general guideline to consume 50 grams of protein a day for somebody on a 2,000 calorie daily diet. Of course, you need to adjust this for your personal body type, activity life, and so on.
If you’re the type of person who skips breakfast, eats a scant lunch, and is ravenous by dinner, you’re probably suffering from protein-deficiency cravings, so simply adjusting your consumption of this macronutrient could help you get your cravings cured.
I find that including high-quality protein in my breakfast is one of the most helpful things that I can do to curb cravings all day, and this has been backed up by research. A couple of eggs, fried tofu, yogurt, and soy milk are some suggestions. If you need something portable, you can plan ahead by boiling eggs or even just making a cheese sandwich with sprouted wheat bread. Also, slow-cooked oatmeal with dairy or plant milk and a few berries will give you what you need to keep your cravings subdued until lunch.
It’s Easy to Avoid Protein-Deficiency Cravings and Weight Gain
The FDA doesn’t say that you have to get all or any of your protein from animal products, though you need to eat a diet that works for you.In fact, their list of protein-rich foods doesn’t even list meat first. It lists legumes, dairy products, eggs, and grains over meat.
- A cup of cooked lentils has about 18 grams of protein, so you can certainly enjoy plant-based sources of protein for some or all of your meals without suffering from a deficiency.
- A cup of peas has nine grams, and even a cup of broccoli will give you 2.5.
In any case, a Harvard study linked protein from yogurt, nuts, and fish to less weight gain, and it also linked meat to more weight gain.
If You Eat Meat, Choose High-Quality Sources
Also, if you do eat a lot of meat, you are probably consuming more protein than you actually need and plenty of saturated fat and other unhelpful stuff. An 8-ounce steak is more than twice as big as a portion for most people. A typical four-ounce steak gives you over 20 grams of protein, so you probably don’t need to sit down at a restaurant and order a 12-ounce steak to fill your protein requirements for the day.
If you eat meat, it’s better to consider it a condiment for a stir fry, salad, soup, or other plant-based dish. That way, three or four ounces of meat, poultry, and seafood can give you a satisfying meal.