Protein + Fiber – Sugar/Processed Foods = Weight Loss
There are two types of fat around our bellies: visceral fat and subcutaneous fat. The stuff you can squeeze and jiggle is subcutaneous fat. It’s the fat right below your skin. While it’s not exactly harmful to your health, it’s what we see when our shirts come off and what we hope to lose when we think of “love handles” or “spilling over my edges.”
Visceral fat, on the other hand, is harmful to our health and it’s the fat that surrounds our organs. It’s hard fat that causes people’s stomachs to stick out. You know the look: small arms and legs, but the pot belly. It’s dangerous because it causes harm to our bodies, such as increasing our resistance to insulin. It also increases our risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
When we want to lose weight, especially around the middle, there are foods that we should be eating in particular if we want to shed fat. Better yet, there are foods you should cut from your diet immediately.
Protein is a macronutrient (along with carbohydrates and fat) that is essential in building and rebuilding muscles. Scientifically speaking, protein is made up of amino acids. Protein helps us fuel our muscles, keep us feeling full, and aids in metabolism.
When you eat more protein, you increase your satiety (hunger-reducing) hormones and reduce your hunger pangs. Theoretically, when you eat protein you stay fuller longer and you automatically decrease your calories because you’re not snacking as much.
Protein also has a higher thermic effect than carbs, which means your body is burning calories to metabolize and digest the protein. It also increases your metabolism if that wasn’t enough.
So how much protein should we be eating on the daily? The short answer is: it depends on your goals. To lose weight, particularly belly fat, aim for 30% of your calorie intake to be protein. Another option is eating 0.7 – 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass.
High protein foods
A study published by the International Journal of Obesity found that eating eggs for breakfast instead of a bagel aids in weight loss. The protein in the eggs increased satiety while decreasing hunger hormones.
- Cottage Cheese
If you’re not a fan of eggs, another breakfast or snack option is cottage cheese. Cottage cheese has a high amount of protein as well as calcium, A and B vitamins. Participants in a clinical trial increased their protein and dairy intake and saw significant weight loss.
Grilled chicken packs you with protein without packing in calories. 3 ounces of chicken breast provides 19 grams of protein while only weighing in at 102 calories.
For the vegetarians and vegans, broccoli is higher in protein compared to most vegetables with 2.6 grams of protein per cup.
- Whey Protein Supplements
If you’d like to get your protein from a different source or you’re short on time, whey protein supplements are plentiful. Whey is the byproduct after milk has been curdled and strained. A lot of lifters will supplement their diets with whey protein before and after a weight lifting workout because of whey’s digestion rate and its ability to send amino acids to the muscles.
Increase fiber intake
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is a plant-based nutrient. It’s not broken down by the body the same way carbs are broken down, though. “Dietary fiber” is the indigestible parts of plant-based foods that remain intact during the digestion process. Fiber regulates digestion, lowers cholesterol, reduces blood glucose levels, among many other benefits. It can also make you fart if you increase it too much too soon, so think about your loved ones downwind when you begin your path toward more fiber.
In a study published by Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers found that by changing a single dietary behavior (adding more fiber to the participants’ diet) aids in weight loss. Like protein, fiber helps us fill fuller for longer periods of time, which helps reduce snacking and arbitrarily eating junk foods.
Right now, most adults are only eating 15 grams of fiber per day, which is about half the recommending amount. For men 50 years old or younger, they should be eating about 38 grams of fiber a day. For women 50 years old or younger, they should be eating about 25 grams. For men 50+, they need to stick with 30 grams of fiber per day and women 50+ need to aim for 21 grams.
High fiber foods
One serving of almonds packs 3 grams of fiber. You can add almonds to nearly any dish or grab a handful walking out the door. They’re also full of protein, so you get double bang for your buck when you eat them.
If you’ve been enjoying your oatmeal for breakfast then you’re well ahead of the gang because oatmeal contains a powerful fiber, beta-glucan, which helps lower cholesterol. Sprinkle almonds on top of your oatmeal for a protein and fiber-packed breakfast.
- Brussel Sprouts
Another shout-out for the plant-based eaters among us, brussel sprouts have as much fiber as they do protein, coming in at 3 grams of fiber per serving.
For omnivores, herbivores, and carnivores alike, lentils are not only low on the glycemic index, but these guys pack on the fiber and protein – another double whammy. With the high fiber and protein, you’ll stay full much longer than you would if you only ate a bagel for breakfast.
- Whole grains
Eating whole grain breads and cereals will help you reach your fiber intake as well. It’s best to check the label of any food that claims it’s “whole grain” because some will still contain flour. A single slice of whole grain bread contains 2 grams of fiber and if you eat the bread with oatmeal, you’re getting a complete breakfast.
Cut out sugar and chemically processed foods
If you really want to make a difference in your belly, cut out the gross, processed shit you’re eating. Really, anything that has a label on it, with more than five ingredients, that can hang out outside of the fridge for more than a few days without going bad is processed. The problem with processed foods is that they have a ton of weird things in them that causes inflammation, makes us sick, and makes us fat.
Eating processed foods introduces way too much sugar into your diet. While sugar in moderation is one thing, a Western diet typically eats 82 grams of sugar per day (supposed to stick to 25 grams or less). Eating too much sugar makes you fat, obviously. It also jacks with your metabolism and leads to insulin resistance. It can cause diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
If you’re looking to make a change in your diet or lose belly fat, increasing your protein and fiber intake will help you achieve goal. You’ll increase satiety and decrease your snacking because you’ll be less hungry. Adding in exercise will double your effort and the pounds will eventually melt away.