You’ve probably heard terms like “increase your daily protein intake to jumpstart fatloss” being thrown around the internet by all sorts of people. Or maybe you’ve read Tim Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Body and noticed that one of his keys to losing weight was taking 30g of protein within 30min of waking up. It’s true that protein is an important ingredient in burning fat, but not too many people tell youwhy it is, so let’s get to the bottom of using protein for weight loss.
Protein, Fat, and Carbs: The Three Macronutrients
Everything we eat can easily be categorized as one of three so-called “macronutrients”. These three macronutrients are all used by your body (metabolized) in different ways. I really like using a campfire as an analogy to help people understand what exactly their metabolism is and how it works:
- Carbs:This is quick-burning energy. It is easiest for your body to breakdown and make use of. There are different types of carbs out there, from complex carbs like beans and whole-grains, to simple carbs (sugars) like honey, syrup, or regular cane sugar. In terms of your metabolism as a fire, think of complex carbs as tinder and kindling, and simple sugars as lighter fluid.
- Fats: Fats are more packed with energy than either of the other macronutrients. However, it’s harder for your body to breakdown and use as energy, so many times it just goes untouched. In the fire analogy, think of it as actual logs/firewood. It doesn’t burn as hot and quick as kindling or lighter fluid, but burns much longer and more steadily.
- Protein: The building blocks of our bodies. Proteins are highly-complex structures that scientists are just barely beginning to understand, but we won’t get nearly that in depth. All you need to know is that muscle is made up of pretty much just two things: protein and water. In the fire analogy, think of protein as air (oxygen). For any fire to burn, oxygen must be present, right? The more oxygen is present, the hotter and more complete the fuel (fats and carbs) will be burned.
How To Use Protein for Weight Loss
Hopefully you can now start to see how important protein is to get your body to burn fat. If you’ve ever tried making a campfire, it should all sort of just make sense now. However if you’re not too outdoorsy of a person, let me help fill in the gaps.
It’s easy to burn carbs for energy, and much more difficult to burn fat. When making a fire, it’s much easier to light some kindling and small, dry sticks with your BIC lighter than it is an entire log, right? Once you get the kindling going though, you can use it to start burning the heavy, dense firewood.
With your metabolism, you want to use energy from those carbs to start burning the fat – meaning use the energy from the carbs to have a great workout and start a bigger fire so you can burn those heavy, dense fats. Do this enough, and you’ll start to burn through your stored-up fat, which will result in weight-loss.
Now to make use of the protein
If you’re making a campfire, one often overlooked trick is to blow on it to help it out. This introduces more oxygen, which makes a hotter, stronger flame and makes it easier to start burning more wood. Adding oxygen to the fire works whether your only on small sticks and kindling, or whether you’re working on burning down a tree-stump.
Similarly, adding protein to your diet makes it easier for your body to burn either carbs or fats for energy. This is one of the reasons why it’s suggested to start your day off with a high amount of protein: your metabolism slows down while you’re sleeping, and you don’t want to spend the first few hours of your day with a slow metabolism, right? So take some protein and you’ll jumpstart the burning of both fat and carbs in your body. This is how you make use of protein for weight loss – just like blowing on the flames of a fire.
Once you’ve got that fire burning hot, it’s much easier to keep it going as well. You don’t have to worry so much about how you’re stacking your wood or anything – just toss a log on the fire and it’ll be used up, right? Well if you use protein to make a hot enough fire inside your body, a similar thing will happen. Eventually, you won’t have to worry as much about your diet, cause whatever you put in, your body will be able to handle it.
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