Every few years, a new weight loss fad comes along, with promises of easy weight loss and a life-changing experience. The truth is, we all know that losing weight is never simple, and that these fads are often just gimmicks to sell books or program materials.
On the other hand, many so-called “fads” are based on scientific research, and often have some redeeming characteristics. One good example are the high protein diets we see hyped a lot these days. Protein does indeed have a role in weight loss, even if the protein-based fad diets do often take the issue a bit too far.
So why is protein important in weight loss? For one thing, it helps to control blood sugar spikes. Protein is digested more slowly, so that energy is steadily released to your body. Without blood sugar spikes, you feel full for longer and experience fewer food cravings. Keeping your energy regulated helps to keep you motivated to exercise as well.
Your body also needs protein in order to build lean muscle tissue. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly burns calories, but it also helps to build muscle. Increasing your muscle mass actually boosts your metabolism, or the rate at which you burn calories on a regular basis.
It’s easy to see that these protein-based fad diets have some roots in truth, and how they can work well for many people. However, as with all diets, it’s important to remember to avoid extremes unless closely monitored by a physician. While protein is definitely an important part of a healthy diet, and certainly can aid weight loss, it’s not true that more is necessarily better. A common danger of fad diets is the tendency to emphasize one type of nutrients so strongly that all others are neglected.
We all need a balance of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats in our diets. A maintenance healthy diet should consist of about 30 percent protein, 50 percent complex carbs, and 20 percent fats. If you want to reap the benefits of protein in your diet, aim for something near those percentages.