How can Plant-based Proteins Help in Weight Loss?
With new diets and fads trending every day, it is hard to know and keep track of what can assist you in your weight loss journey in a healthy and nutritive way. However, the one thing that any weight loss regimen has in common is the incorporation of protein.
Proteins assist in building and maintaining lean muscle and increase our metabolism while also destroying any desires to binge on snacks. However even under the wide umbrella of protein, it is important to differentiate between what is going to be helpful long term and what is only going to fulfill short term weight loss goals.
Plant-based protein is one such type of protein that is sure to aid in this long-term journey. While chicken, fish, beef, and other sources of animal protein are known to be beneficial, the additionally dietary benefits of plant-based proteins are unmatched. In short, plant-based proteins are sure to satisfy all hunger pangs while also being extra beneficial as they are excellent sources of easily absorbed nutrients and filling fiber.
What is plant-based proteins?
Now let us take a closer look at what plant-based proteins entail. It is simple. Proteins derived from a plant source is a plant-based protein. This form of protein can be derived from foods such as tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds, certain grains, lentils and even peas.
One of the largest groups of plant-based proteins is pulses, which include lentils, beans, chickpeas as well as split peas. The key thing to note here, as it applies to weight loss, is that all plant-based proteins are extremely nutritive and high in their protein content while being low in calories. They also have a lower fat content which makes them weight-loss compatible as well as heart healthy. When taking into consideration weight loss, it becomes important that we are providing our body with not only the proper quantity of sustenance but also the correct quality. Proteins, and especially plant-based proteins, as mentioned earlier are also highly satiating. This means that they are keeping you full for longer but not in a way that results in lethargy and laziness, but rather one that allows you to burn more calories in the long run.
- Plant-based proteins contain friendly, filling fiber:
Ask any weight loss expert and one of the first things that they will tell you regarding losing weight is the importance of incorporating fiber into your diet. This becomes important in not only maintaining a well-functioning digestive system but also that feeling of being “full” after a meal. The worst feeling that one can experience is going on a diet just to feel deprived, agitated, and hungry because of the meals that you are consuming.
The importance of plant-based proteins, and their fiber content, comes into play when looking at this. Fiber is the nutritive substance that is made up of two parts: insoluble and soluble fiber. The soluble fiber does the job of keeping us feeling full and content after a meal while the insoluble does the work of helping our digestive system run smoothly. And this is where one of the main differences between plant and animal protein lies. Animal protein is void of the fiber content that is required to maintain a healthy and consistent weight loss diet. Plants on the other hand, contain large volumes of fiber that are both soluble and insoluble.
Take lentils as an example. Just one cup of lentils contains 16 grams of fiber while also containing about 18 grams of protein. Now imagine this in a meal. All that is needed is lentils, a source of carbs, and a side of vegetables and you have yourself a complete protein packed meal that is sure to keep you satisfied.
- Plant protein has a lower fat content:
While protein, fiber, and other nutrients are essential in weight loss, one of the most important fact remains, fat intake. This is not to say that all forms of fat are harmful, however saturated fats are. Those that argue that animal proteins are the only way in which protein should be eaten, are missing out on nothing except the intake of saturated fat that it brings along with the protein. If we are to understand this, we must begin by understanding the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats.
Simply put, saturated fats are those that remain solid at room temperature, while unsaturated fats are those that are liquid at room temperature. Unsaturated fat is what is found in red meats such as steak, which often is the reason that these foods taste good. However, looking at the bigger picture, we can see that not only are there all the same nutritive benefits to the plant based counterpart of these protein sources, but they are also heart healthy, and increase the level of “good” cholesterol in the body.
For example, one serving of beans and quinoa, a very popular and nutritive meal option, contains 5 grams of fat and 20 grams of protein while a serving of steak, while having the same protein content, contains 8 grams of fat. This 3-gram difference may not seem like a lot when looking at individual meals, however, please note that the fat coming from the steak is saturated fat, which are not one of the causes of artery blockages.
What are some different types of plant-based proteins?
The search for healthy and tasty plant-based proteins can be difficult; so here are some examples of plant- based meals that can be eaten individually or paired together:
- Rice and lentil bowls (try some delicious varieties at Aahana’s : Click Here
- Veggie grain bowls
- Beans and rice (often seen in variations in Mexican cuisine)
- Lentil soups: red, green, yellow, brown and also peas
- Substituting tofu or tempeh for meat in pre-existing recipes
All in all, if we look at plant based and animal-based protein sources, there is a lot of good to be said about each. However, it is an undeniable fact that plant-based diets, or majority plant-based diets are more favorable in the long run. This becomes extremely important to take into consideration when aiming for weight loss when designing your diet. The proper intake of protein, fiber, fats and other nutrients should be watched and observed closely if we are looking at long term weight loss outcomes.