There are so many weight loss myths that persist, but none more dangerous than the protein makes you fat myth.
Because of everything we know about protein, particularly lean proteins, we know that proteins can be very beneficial to successful weight loss as well as muscle building. Keep reading to find out the answer to the elusive question; does protein make you fat?
Protein Helps Build Muscle
Protein aids with the building of muscles, bones, skin and cartilage, making it an essential nutrient in the human diet. Because protein is a macronutrient, we know that our bodies need relatively large quantities of it. And this part of why people mistakenly believe that protein makes you fat. Well, that and the fact that many athletes and aspiring bodybuilders use protein to “bulk up”.
But they consume more protein than they need, and an excess of anything can lead to weight gain, right?
What you should remember about protein consumption is that we don’t need as much of it each day as most of us think. And this is why any reputable weight loss source will recommend lean sources of protein for fat loss.
Lean Proteins Burn Fat
One reason so many people jumped on the Atkins Diet bandwagon is because of this truth; protein requires your body to work hard to convert it, which will lead to more calories being burned.
Unfortunately the fat burning potential of protein has lead many dieters to eat more protein than they need. An excess of protein can have the exact opposite effect on your weight loss efforts.
Protein Gives You Energy
If you believe that protein makes you fat, you’re missing out on one of the major benefits of protein—energy!
Protein’s fat burning abilities are due in part to your body’s hard work converting protein to glucose for energy. Without this healthy source of energy, chances are slim that you’ll have enough energy to make it through a killer fat burning workout.
Moderation, Not Avoidance
The truth is that protein is essential to many everyday body functions and eliminating protein from your diet could be more responsible for your weight gain, than what you believe about protein making you fat.
When people ask me, does protein make you fat, my answer is usually the same; not if you consume it in moderation.
Excess Protein & Weight Gain
The one time the answer is yes to the question, does protein make you fat, is when you eat too much protein. The unfortunate side effect to consuming too much protein, especially if you aren’t getting regular physical activity, is that your body can only convert so much protein before it is filled to capacity.
When protein can no longer be stored for energy, the body converts it to other compounds like fatty acids. This means that when you eat more protein than your body needs, it gets stored as…FAT.
So, while protein in and of itself does not make you fat, giving your body more protein than it needs can certainly lead to weight gain.
How Much Protein is Enough?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 10 to 35% of your daily calories should come from protein. Protein has 4 calories per gram, which is why it’s essential that you choose lean proteins in your diet. Women over the age of 19 should consume around 46 grams of protein, while men should have 56 grams each day. Of course, the exact amount of protein will depend on your weight and level of physical activity.
Sources of Protein
Lean proteins are an excellent way to get enough protein and lose weight. Check out the protein (and calorie) count in these proteins:
Get more information on how to decrease your protein intake by reading our review of Eat Stop Eat.