If we read the popular press, it is easy to become confused about weight loss. To understand weight loss, it is necessary to understand that weight loss is tied to the body’s basic energy requirements. Each individual has a daily “energy” requirement based on lifestyle, age, body composition, and a variety of other factors.
Each day’s energy requirements are derived from the proteins, fats and carbohydrates in the foods we consume. If we do not intake enough energy, expressed in calories, our bodies will meet the daily energy requirement by drawing down on energy reserves found in the body in fat stores and lean body mass. This “draw down” is when weight loss occurs. Weight loss occurs when the daily calorie intake is negative with respect to the energy needs of the individual.
When weight loss occurs, the body depletes fat and lean body mass to provide energy needs. Fat loss is the goal of most dieters. In order to preserve lean body mass during weight loss, protein supplementation is necessary. Protein supplementation maintains protein balance and prevents the loss of lean body mass. Diets that restrict caloric intake require consistent protein intake with protein supplements on a daily basis to insure healthful weight loss.
Protein supplements must provide adequate amounts of high quality protein. Protein supplements must also remain low in total calories, fat, and carbohydrates. High protein supplements will make no difference unless the supplements are used in the context of a calorie restricted diet. Protein is an energy source, in the absence of a restricted calorie diet, excess protein, like excess fat and excess carbohydrates will be converted to fat.
Energy from protein is different. Unlike calories from fat and carbohydrates, the body uses more energy to break down protein. The body consumes more calories converting protein into energy than it would convert other “energy “sources. Protein supplementation means more weight is lost.