Want to lose weight? Eat more protein.
Science tells us that protein is a natural fat burner. According to the Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, researchers showed that high-protein meals increase the metabolism of overweight people. That’s because of protein’s higher thermic effect of food (TEF) than carbohydrates.
What Is TEF?
Your body is burning calories all the time, including during digestion. The thermic effect of food, also known as thermogenesis, is the amount of energy required to process and digest the food you consume. Some foods take more energy to break down and digest than others. Heavily processed carbs are easy to digest. Protein — not so much.
Healthy fats like nuts, seeds and oils such as avocado, olive and hemp also boast a higher TEF.
The energy used to digest protein, when ingested alone, comes from stored fat that is broken down and metabolized so it can be used for fuel. So you can use food along with exercise to transform your body into an efficient fat-burning machine.
Timing Macros for Optimal Fat Burning
When it comes to protein and carbs, you can have both — just not at the same time! For example, if you’re eating a slice of peanut butter toast, your body will automatically start digesting the quick-burning carbs from the toast before the protein from the peanuts. You would be better off just eating a handful of peanuts or a half of an avocado — foods that contain both protein and healthy fat.
Slow-digesting carbs like healthy whole grains and sweet potatoes should be eaten before training.
Overall, aim to prioritize healthy fats and proteins over carbs. Protein has also been shown to curb sugar cravings and keep you fuller longer — yet another reason to eat more at every meal!
This recipe from Laura’s Lean features healthy protein (chicken) and fat (olives) to rev up your metabolism. Add an olive-oil-based dressing for extra healthy fat.
Grilled Greek Chicken With Cucumber-Tomato Salad
- 4 Laura’s Lean chicken breasts (5 oz per chicken breast)
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 cups seedless cucumber, cubed
- ½ red onion, sliced
- 5/16 cup Kalamata olives, halved
- juice and zest of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat an outdoor grill or grill pan over medium heat.
- In a large bowl, combine chicken breasts, oregano, rosemary, lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside to marinate while you make the salad, up to 20 minutes.
- In another large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, olives, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Place chicken breasts on grill and cook until no longer pink in the middle, about 7 minutes per side. Allow chicken to rest 5 minutes, then serve alongside salad.