“You are what you eat.” If that’s true then most of us are garbage cans. We don’t realize how much harm we do to our bodies by consuming every delicious looking high-carb, high-fat diet morsel that comes our way — and then further destroy our health by embarking on radical, extreme diets.
We all know that fruit, vegetables, and lean meats, which are all high in fiber and protein, lead to a well-balanced diet.
However, our reluctance to follow it may stem from the notion that these foods are not very mouth-watering. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Apart from taste, high-fiber and high-protein foods are essential for healthy living.
Rather than starving ourselves with drastic, short-term weight loss diets like ketosis and OMAD, we should try to make protein and fiber a regular part of our diet, which can help us lose weight with ease.
According to the CDC, both these elements prevent cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of death in the United States.
High Protein Diet For Muscle Gain And Fat Loss
Proteins are the building blocks of muscles. Good news for meat lovers: Protein is found in the highest concentrations in animal-based foods, such as eggs, meat, seafood, poultry, and dairy products.
Though there are plenty of vegetarian options as well, they only contain protein in small amounts.
According to several studies, consuming protein helps you feel full for a longer time as compared to when you eat carbs and fats.
A high-protein diet increases the level of satiety hormones GLP-1, peptide YY, and cholecystokinin and reduces levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. This curbs your craving for carbs.
Additionally, protein is also responsible for thermogenesis or the production of heat in your body.
This also makes you burn more calories during the day, including when you are asleep. This means improved metabolism.
For beauty conscious people, adding protein in your diet ensures the weight you lose is fat, as protein helps you retain muscle mass.
If you are obese and have blood cholesterol issues, stick to high-protein food like legumes, nuts, grains, and seeds that do not come with cholesterol and saturated fat.
People who are more physically active, like athletes, need a higher proportion of protein in their diet so that they can participate in running, swimming, weight lifting, and cardio exercises.
According to a research study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, 19 patients were given the following diets and their results were compared: a 15% protein, 35% fat and 50% carbohydrate diet for 2 weeks; a 30% protein, 20% fat and 50% carbohydrate diet for 2 weeks and 30% protein, 20% fat and 50% carbohydrate diet for 12 weeks.
After each diet phase, a blood sample was taken to measure the concentration of insulin, leptin, and ghrelin.
The results showed that satiety was increased and body weight and fat mass was significantly reduced with both the second and third high-protein diet.
Dietary fiber constitutes the part of a plant which cannot be absorbed by our body and passes out completely intact.
Although our bodies lack the enzyme to digest fiber, it plays a very important role that goes further than just regulating our bowel movements.
Like protein, fiber maintains satiety on much fewer calories. It does that by taking up a lot of space in the stomach, without any additional calories, which can make you feel full. It also feeds the good bacteria living in our guts.
Soluble fibers, which are present in oats, beans, lentils, and citrus fruit, also absorb water in your stomach and turn into a gel.
This also makes your stomach feel full. It helps you slowly digest your food over a long period of time so that energy release is evenly distributed and you feel less hungry throughout the day.
Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, helps pass material through your body, support a healthy colon and slows down the absorption of sugar in your body, to make you slimmer.
What’s so great about high-fiber food is that they also contain complex sugars that also help maintain healthy blood sugar and energy release.
Some of the best sources of insoluble fiber are nuts, whole wheat flour, potatoes, and vegetable.
Fiber prevents diseases of the colon and reduces cholesterol levels in your body.
Food that contains fiber takes longer to chew, as well, and this sends satiety signals to the brain and stops overeating.
Incorporating fiber in your diet regulates your digestive system, helps maintain an optimum weight and reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Men should have 32-40 grams of fiber in their diet daily while women should have at least 30 grams.
Scientific research published in the Annals of Medicine compared the results of two types of diets.
The first group was told to eat simple, high fiber foods with 30 grams of fiber every day.
The second group was asked to eat more fruit, veggies, fish, lean protein and whole grains but was also told to eliminate sugar, salt, fat and alcohol from their diet.
The result showed that both groups lost weight, though the second group lost four more pounds on average and kept the excess weight off for 12 months.
This shows that despite the significant dietary tweaks, both groups lost weight, indicating the slimming effects of fiber.
Prevention of Heart Diseases
Healthy high-fiber and high-protein foods are both great for heart disease prevention; however, proportion and balance is the key.
If you choose high-protein food that is also high in cholesterol and saturated fats, you may increase the risk of contracting cardiovascular diseases.
So, people who have a history of heart conditions should reduce consumption of red meat, like beef, bison, and pork, and should rely more on vegetable proteins.
Researchers note that protein-rich foods can reduce triglycerides and blood pressure, which can also prevent heart diseases.
Similarly, fiber-rich food also has an important part in controlling high cholesterol level, which prevents cardiovascular diseases as well.
Low Glycemic Carbohydrates
Do you know what’s even better than a high-protein and high-fiber diet? Combining it with low glycemic carbs.
Although all three of these nutrients work on different principles to make you feel satiated, they also work great together and can result in even less calorie intake, which means a higher amount of weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight for a longer time.
Low glycemic foods take more time to digest and prevent hunger pangs and cravings that are a sign of a blood sugar crash.
Low glycemic carbohydrates are found in fruit, non-starchy vegetable, plantains like bananas, yucca, sweet potato, and no-sugar dairy products.
Here are some of the best (and most delicious) protein-rich foods:
Chicken: 100 grams of chicken contains 30 grams of protein
Drumsticks or breast, which do you prefer? For a healthier option, choose chicken breast as it contains selenium, phosphorus, proteins, Vitamin B12 and is low in fat and cholesterol.
Beef: 100 grams of beef contains 26 grams of protein
Do you love your steak? You should. Grass-fed beef contains higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids which reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Salmon:100 grams of salmon contains 25 grams of protein
People who eat this scrumptious, gourmet quality fish have the lowest fasting levels of insulin and reduced inflammation.
Pinto Beans: 100 grams of pinto beans contains 21 grams of protein
Loaded with proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, beans are not just beneficial for your heart but for your muscles and brain as well.
Greek Yogurt: 100 grams of Greek yogurt contains 10 grams of protein
This creamy treat contains probiotic which helps obese women lose twice as much weight as diets without probiotics.
Sun-dried tomatoes: 100 grams of tomato contains 5 grams of protein
This wonderful pizza topping contains antioxidant lycopene, which prevents lung, bladder, stomach, skin and prostate cancers.
Spinach: 100 grams of spinach contains 2.9 grams of protein
Popeye’s favorite superfood, spinach, has as much protein as a hard-boiled egg and is healthier than kale.
Here are some of the most delicious fiber-rich foods:
Chia Seeds: 100 grams of chia seeds contains 34.4 grams of fiber
Chia seeds have exceptional nutritional value and they contain all 9 essential amino acids, even the ones we can’t produce ourselves and are loaded with potassium, phosphorus, and calcium.
French Beans: 100 grams of French beans contains 19 grams of fiber
The salad favorites, the French beans, also contain antioxidants called catechins, which reduces the risk of getting cancer, prevents diabetes and improves heart health.
Chickpeas: 100 grams of chickpeas contains 17 grams of fiber
Who doesn’t love that rich and creamy Middle Eastern dip called hummus? Chickpeas do not only help maintain one’s weight, but they are also great for maintaining low blood pressure and improving bone health.
Dark chocolate: 100 grams of dark chocolate contains 11 grams of fiber
Who doesn’t crave Lindt, Ghirardelli or Godiva once in a while? You now have an excuse to eat more of them as they contain soluble fiber and powerful antioxidants, which lowers the chances of heart diseases.
Lentils: 100 gram of lentils contains 8 grams of fiber
Used most popularly in South Asian cuisine, lentils contain fiber, potassium and folic acid, all of which contribute towards improved heart health.
Avocados: 100 grams of avocado contains 7 grams of fiber
If you are eating expensive avocado toast or guacamole at home, don’t stop. Aside from fiber, the alligator pear is rich in folate, potassium, oleic acid, and five essential vitamins, which reduce blood pressure and inflammation.
Raspberries: 100 grams of raspberries contains 7 grams of fiber
A favorite of many, this sweetest of berry is effective in cancer prevention, eye protection, anti-aging, and digestive health.
Experts recommend that you should have 46-56 grams of protein and 25-30 grams of fiber every day.
If you want to lose weight quicker, a high-protein diet will increase your metabolism, curb hunger pangs and result in reduced calorie intake.
If you want a healthy gut and reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes, a high-fiber diet is the best fit for you.
But remember, a well-balanced diet is the key to healthy living.