Protein and Weight Loss

Protein and Weight Loss: A Powerful Combination

May 25, 2022

Protein and Weight Loss: You have probably heard the saying, “protein is the building block of cells”.  Every cell in the human body contains protein.  Your body needs protein in the diet to maintain lean body mass (muscle!), help your body repair cells, and help your body make new cells. 

Over the past 20 years, numerous studies have shown that higher-protein diets result in successful weight loss and weight maintenance. Higher protein intake is associated with greater weight loss, greater fat mass loss, and preservation of lean body mass (muscle!). As we age, the preservation of lean body mass (muscle!) becomes even more important. 

Protein and Weight Loss – How Much Protein Do We Need?

 So, how much protein would be considered a higher protein diet?  Many studies have shown that an intake of 25-30 grams of protein per meal results in greater fat loss, decreased appetite, and improved cardiometabolic risk factors. People on higher protein diets report a greater feeling of satiety after eating.  Studies have shown that a moderate carbohydrate, moderate protein diet results in improved insulin response after eating. 

Protein and Food Choices

Good sources of protein include meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, and eggs. Don’t eat meat? Not to worry! Non-meat sources of protein such as beans, peas, tofu, nuts, quinoa, buckwheat, and vegan protein powders provide quality protein as well as healthy fats and fiber!

Some examples of meals with 25-30 grams of protein include (amounts are approximate and may vary): 

  • 3 scrambled eggs with spinach (18 grams of protein) plus coffee with ½ cup whole milk (4 grams of protein). 
    Total protein: 22 grams
  • 1 cup of tofu (20 grams of protein) blended with one packet of frozen acai puree plus ½ cup of blueberries. 
    Total protein: 20 grams
  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt (20 grams of protein) plus ¼ cup granola (2 grams of protein) plus ½ cup strawberries. 
    Total protein: 22 grams
  • 3 ounces grilled chicken (27 grams of protein) plus ½ cup steamed broccoli plus ½  cup wild rice (3 grams of protein)
    Total protein:  30 grams
  • ¾ cup black beans (12 grams of protein) plus 1 cup cooked quinoa (8 grams of protein) plus ½ cup cooked sweet potato (2 grams of protein). 
    Total protein:  22 grams
  • 2 ounces pork tenderloin (14 grams of protein) plus ½ cup green peas (4 grams of protein) plus ½ cup buckwheat (3 grams of protein). 
    Total protein: 21 grams

Aim to consume a healthy, high-quality protein with every meal and snack.  Your primary protein source should contain more protein than any other nutrient (fat or carbohydrate). Eating protein with carbohydrates can improve the insulin response after a meal or snack. Eat your protein food first to be sure you are able to get it in and to help stabilize your blood sugar when you consume the carbohydrates. 

Speaking of fiber, increasing protein does not mean eliminating carbohydrates, especially those rich in fiber!  Vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals—and with so few calories and carbohydrates, everyone can enjoy more, but eat your protein first!

Nikhilesh Sekhar MD, FACS, FASMBS currently practices at New York Bariatric Group

Protein and Weight Loss


Nikhilesh Sekhar MD, FACS, FASMBS currently practices at New York Bariatric Group and has performed thousands of WLS procedures including Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass, Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy and Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding. He also has background performing laparoscopic Nissen, laparoscopic inguinal and ventral hernia repair, laparoscopic colectomy and laparoscopic lymphadenectomy. Read more articles from Dr. Sekhar