Taming your hunger with high protein meals
Photo credit: proteincupcakes.net
If you’re a gym rat like me, chances are you’ve heard about the importance of eating protein. These macronutrients are often claimed to help build muscle mass or lose fat. Protein is an important part of effective weight loss, nutrition management, and simply a healthy diet.
Eating a sufficient amount of protein can indeed help you lose weight. It can boost your metabolic rate and reduce your appetite. If protein makes up 25 to 30 per cent of your total calorie intake, you burn an extra 80 to 100 calories per day compared to lower protein diets.
This is due to the increased thermogenesis following a high-protein meal. The key is protein’s ability to reduce hunger—it makes you feel fuller than fat or carbs. This means you eat less while still feeling satisfied.
That’s not to say that you can eat whatever you want as long as it contains protein. The greatest factor for weight loss is energy balance: calories in versus calories out. But when comparing two diets that have the same daily calorie intake, the one that’s higher in protein will be more favourable for weight loss. Protein is effortless energy use—it needs more energy from our bodies to break it down than the other macronutrients.
It also lowers your risk of disease by lowering blood glucose and fasting plasma triglycerides, thereby helping to prevent diseases such as diabetes and obesity.
Lastly, protein boosts muscle mass and may protect fat-free mass during short-term weight loss, while promoting fat loss.
Meat and other animal products are rich in protein. But if you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or you’re just not crazy about meat, it’s still possible to increase your protein intake. Foods such as unsweetened Greek yogurt, low-fat cheese, beans, legumes, and nuts in small portions are all great sources of protein that are also packed with other essential nutrients.
To help you get started and stay on track, here’s a healthy and delicious dessert recipe: protein-filled black bean brownies. This dessert is very low in fat and sugar, and high in protein and fibre. It contains about half the calories of most homemade brownies, but tastes just as good. They’re also very simple to make—but you will need some protein powder.
Black bean brownie recipe
1 can organic low-sodium black beans 1/2 cup chocolate protein powder 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk 1/2 tsp baking powder 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa 1/4 cup Stevia in the raw (or natural sweetener of your choice) 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 whole egg and 1 egg white 3 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips 1/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Drain the can of black beans. Using a blender, blend the beans with all the wet ingredients except the eggs. After all the ingredients are blended together, mix the eggs in along with the remaining dry ingredients. Make sure everything is mixed together, but do not overbeat the batter. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips and nuts of your choice. Spray a baking dish with non-stick baking spray and cook in the oven for about 30 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.