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Adding more protein into your diet is almost always a good idea, especially if you feel like your protein consumption is too low. There is a very good chance that you aren't getting enough protein in your diet if you aren't thinking about how much of it you're eating, and the deficiency in protein may be causing you to resort to eating high carbohydrate foods to compensate. Adding more protein in your diet will keep you full for longer periods of time throughout the diet, it will keep your energy levels up, and it will prevent you from having to rely on foods that are high in sugar or carbohydrates just to keep your energy levels up during the day.
The recommended amount of protein consumption will vary from one person to another. Both men and women should consume almost the same amount of protein on a daily basis, and the recommended amount is anywhere from 0.60 grams per pound of body weight up to 1.2 grams per pound of body weight (for serious athletes and bodybuilders). Most people can get away with 0.70 grams per pound of body weight, so for a 110 pound woman that would be 77 grams per day, and for a 150 pound male that would be 105 grams. If you are eating less 0.70 grams per pound every day you may want to consider upping your protein consumption, as it can definitely help you lose weight in a variety of ways.
Protein is a necessity if you lift weights on a regular basis, but even if you don't work out you still need to have an adequate protein intake to maintain your lean muscle. Adding more protein into your diet will help you avoid muscle loss during periods of inactivity, and the amount of muscle loss from inactivity can be substantial. Maintaining your muscle mass is important, not just for looks or for being functional, but muscle also burns calories when you aren't exercising. Maintaining muscle mass doesn't burn enough calories for you to lose weight, but it definitely helps you maintain a normal metabolism which is beneficial for weight loss and keeping excess pounds off.
One very important effect that protein has for your health is that it stabilizes your blood sugar levels throughout the day. When you eat foods that are high in carbohydrates, your blood sugar spikes followed by a fast drop off. Eating protein throughout the day will keep your blood sugar levels stable, and thus you won't be starved before your next meal and you won't be tempted to keep eating more than you need to throughout the day. If you need 110 grams or so of protein each day, try to split up your protein consumption so that you are eating around 30 grams or so per meal - this way you will get the blood sugar stabilizing benefit of protein and you won't be trying to fit your daily requirement in all at once.
Several studies have shown that simply increasing your protein intake can result in weight loss. In one study, participants increased their protein consumption 30 percent. They lost approximately 11 pounds on average over a period of 12 weeks just by adding more protein in their diet. They reduced their calorie consumption by 450 calories on average on their own, which shows that by adding more protein in their diet they were more satisfied throughout the day and didn't have to eat as many carbohydrate rich or calorie rich foods to stay full.
Now that you're aware of the benefits of increasing your protein intake, it helps to know some of the best natural sources of protein. First of all, whey protein is an excellent supplement that shouldn't be ignored, and it can definitely be a great way to get more protein into your diet. If you do decide to use whey protein, keep in mind that it is usually not intended to be a meal replacement, so it doesn't have the vitamins and minerals that natural protein sources have. Whey protein is also usually not necessary unless you are doing weightlifting or if you have an intensive workout program.
Some excellent natural sources of protein include eggs, dairy products, legumes, soy, nuts, fish and lean meats. On the HCG diet you get most of your protein intake from lean meats and this is the ideal way to get your daily requirement in. Although legumes are not allowed on the HCG diet they do have a substantial amount of protein in them, but they aren't necessarily the best food to eat. They aren't as bad as wheat and grain products, but they contain phytates which are anti-nutrients that prevent minerals from being absorbed by the body. This should be somewhat obvious, but getting protein from processed foods is not a good idea with all of the extra additives and often times a very high simple carbohydrate content, and should be avoided as much as possible.
Legumes can also cause inflammation for people who are sensitive to the lectins and other compounds in them that can trigger an inflammatory response, and they also can be high in carbohydrates. In general, it is best to get most of your protein from animal and dairy sources while sources like soy and legumes should ideally be kept to a minimum. It should be mentioned that legumes are almost always necessary for a vegetarian diet, and they are an excellent source of protein for vegetarians, but if you aren't a vegetarian animal protein is almost always a better option.
When you increase your protein consumption for weight loss, you should try to eat at least a third of that protein at breakfast. After you've been fasting throughout the night your body needs fuel and it will actually start breaking down muscle tissue if you wait too long before your next meal. Also, eating a protein rich breakfast will help you feel less hungry prior to lunch and dinner, and you are less likely to gorge on a large meal later on in the day. Previously we discussed the health benefits of eating breakfast, and several studies have shown that eating any breakfast at all is always better than eating no breakfast for weight loss, but a protein rich breakfast is even better.
Also bear in mind that the protein found in many nuts and vegetables are limited; that is they don't contain all of the essential amino acids that you need. Vegetarians can combine different foods to get all their essential amino acids, but if you eat meat then you should rely mostly on animal protein as mentioned previously. The HCG diet is one of the few diets that emphasizes protein consumption while reducing calorie intake, and it has been proven to be one of the most effective high protein diets. For more information about how the HCG diet can help you lose weight, click here.