Eat More Protein to Burn Belly Fat Faster

January 20th, 2015
protein to burn belly fat

With so many dietary methods available to us these days there seems to be a large emphasis on what we shouldn’t be eating, but what if we were to simplify matters by turning out attention to what we should be eating?

Covering our nutritional bases can be incredibly effective for fat loss as it essentially lays the foundation of your diet, leaving less room for other junk. This also helps to create a far less restrictive mindset than if we were to adopt, say, a low-carb or low-fat approach.

With this in mind, we’re going to look at protein and how it can help you to burn belly fat.

Kick Start Your Metabolism

The phenomenon known as the thermic effect of food describes the amount of energy the body needs to use in order to digest or metabolize nutrients.

The easiest way to understand this is to look at the amount of energy consumed that is used to utilize the nutrients we eat [1][2]:

  • Fat                       5 – 15%
  • Carbohydrates  5 – 15%
  • Protein               20 – 35%

So we can immediately see that as much as one-fifth to one-third of the calories we consume in the form of protein are automatically burned or used just by our body as it processes the protein.

Putting it another way, if you eat 1,000 calories of fat you can expect your body to absorb roughly 850 – 950 of those calories. If you eat 1,000 calories of protein you’ll be absorbing around 650 – 800 of said calories.

There are obviously many other factors to take into consideration such as activity levels, insulin sensitivity, age, and general health markers; however, simply ensuring you’re eating a high-protein diet can instantly increase your chances of weight loss success.

Looking Specifically at Belly Fat

Although spot reduction; that is, your ability to selectively remove fat from specific areas of your body is widely accepted as being a myth, there is some variance in the distribution of body fat depending on the makeup of your diet.

In fact, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Nutrition & Metabolism showed a direct inverse correlation between the protein in one’s diet and the amount of belly fat held[3].

From this research we can extrapolate that a diet high in quality proteins – at least 10g of essential amino acids at each meal – can help you to not only lose belly fat but keep it offer in the long term providing you maintain your protein intake.

What’s more, an earlier study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2006 concluded that “[although] no significant associations with total energy or energy from fat, carbohydrate, or alcohol were observed, protein intake was inversely related to [waist circumference over a five-year period].”[4]

[Emphasis added]

Notice how the main association was with protein intake and not fats or carbohydrates; this is pretty interesting when you consider how much fuss has been made over low-carb and low-fat diets through the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s!

So You’ve Lost the Fat: Now What?

There is a statistic commonly thrown around which usually says something to the effect of 90% of all dieters either fail or regain the weight they lost within a short period of time.

The great thing about protein is that it won’t just help you to lose the weight in the first place but it will also prevent you from becoming just another statistic. A high-protein diet will help you to reduce the amount of weight you gain when you eventually stop your weight loss efforts and revert back to more baseline or maintenance levels of food intake.

The last study we’re going to look at is a very recent publication in the International Journal of Obesity, and it clearly showed how the “[…]higher protein content of [a]diet improves weight loss maintenance in overweight and obese adults over 12 months.[5]

So there you have it – a high-protein diet will greatly increase your rate of success while losing weight while also helping you to keep your excess body fat off for the long haul.

Taking a Realistic Perspective

Although viewing calories as simple calories regardless of the source they come from is an outdated method of weight loss, it is important to understand that you still need to be consuming fewer calories than you expend if you want to shed your belly fat.

Protein will definitely help you along the way but stuffing your face with meat isn’t the sole solution, so be sure to keep your diet balanced while putting in your time at the gym – this is what will give you the results you want!