When it comes to weight loss, the most important thing is a calorie deficit. You must be eating less calories than you require to lose weight. Diets that provide equal amounts of calories, but differing amounts of macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) will result in similar weight loss. However, in real life settings, the combination of macronutrients should not be overlooked, especially for athletes. This is because of the impact of macronutrients on hunger.
Satiation refers to feeling satisfied. This is what helps us stop eating a meal. Satiety is similar but refers to feeling full and allows us to stop eating for a while. Different macronutrients have different effects on satiation and satiety. Of the macronutrients, protein has the strongest satiation and satiety effect. On the other hand, fat has the weakest satiation and satiety effect. What does this mean? If you were to eat the same amount of calories from protein and fat, you would feel full faster and for longer with the protein food compared to the fat food.
Nobody likes feeling hungry. Including adequate protein in your diet can help you feel full. This is one of the reasons why including protein with meals and snacks is important. What is more important than increasing protein intake above recommended levels is making sure that protein is included with each meal and snack. Examples of high-quality protein foods include:
- Meat, fish, poultry
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
Another reason for athletes to include protein with meals is its impact on body composition. With weight loss, some of the weight lost will be body fat but muscle mass will also be lost. Eating a high protein diet will help reduce the amount of muscle lost.
While many athletes typically consume adequate, if not excessive protein with dinner and lunch, it’s common for breakfast and snacks to be lacking in the protein department. Try adding some eggs to your breakfast or snack or some Greek yogurt or cottage cheese between meals.
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