With spring just around the corner you might be starting to think about that summer body. Chances are, if you’re anything like me, warming, winter comfort foods got the better of you over the last few months and extra kilos around the abdomen have been accrued.
While winter weight gain isn’t uncommon, it’s not particularly healthy – especially if you are storing it around your mid-section. And while you can exercise your butt off, the problem generally lies with your eating habits; this is where a diet high in protein can help.
“High protein foods are shown to prolong satiety, meaning that you feel more satisfied for longer and are less likely to over-eat,” dietician and nutritionist for IsoWhey, Belinda Reynolds, told SHESAID. “When on a weight loss program they are useful as they promote the maintenance of lean muscle mass and help to promote the loss of fat.
“High protein foods also tend to have a lower glycaemic index, meaning that any sugar from the meal is released into the blood at a more steady pace, reducing the risk of sugar cravings and energy slumps that see you reaching for the wrong type of food as a pick-me-up,” she added.
While you might associate a high-protein diet with eating beef mince for breakfast and chicken and broccoli for lunch, this is hardly the case. In fact, there are loads of creative and tasty ways that you can incorporate more protein into your day, without going OTT.
Belinda says: “Tins of tuna or salmon can be a good… while edamame beans, sacha inchi seeds and sunflower seeds can be ideal options also. You can also get creative and make chia seed puddings (e.g. chia seeds soaked in almond milk with a little vanilla extract and greek yoghurt, berries and other seeds added – this option is high in fibre also).
“Consider too, celery with nut butter or carrot/celery with hummus, and wholegrain crisp bread with avocado and smoked salmon.”
If you are trying to trim down in time for the summer months, keep in mind that high protein foods still contain calories and over indulging will compromise your goals, says Reynolds. You still need to take into account portion sizes – especially when eating foods such as nuts – and it’s important to “take into account your individual dietary needs.”
“Be sure to include a variety of different snacks and also aim for a majority of your diet to be made of plant-based foods,” she advises. “The reason for this is that a wide variety of different proteins provides a nice combination of different amino acids, essential fats, fibre, essential micro-nutrients and other beneficial compounds.
“Amino acids provided by protein are essential for a plethora of functions in the body including muscle maintenance, hair, skin and nail health, detoxification, mood health, the production of enzymes, energy, metabolism…the list goes on!”
So what’s the ideal amount of protein to include in your diet? “Aiming to consume 0.8-1g protein per kilogram of body-weight is ideal,” recommends Belinda, however she also points out that this increases with more physical activity.
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