DON’T LET A NIGHT OF OVEREATING SET YOU BACK A FEW DAYS! FOCUS YOUR FINGERS AND FORKS ON THIS NUTRIENT AND YOU’LL SIGNIFICANTLY LESSEN THE IMPACT OF A PLANNED NIGHT OF INDULGING!
There will be plenty of times in your life when you overindulge. Whether it’s during the Holidays while celebrating a special occasion, spending time with family or friends, or simply because dieting sucks and you’re ravenous.
It’s going to happen.
Unfortunately, when it does, you consume more calories than you need in a single day…in that single meal. And as you continue guzzling down high-carbohydrate, high-fat foods, you max out carbohydrate (glycogen) storage, which leads to increased fat conversion, and significantly shifts the ratio between fat accumulation and breakdown in favor of accumulation.
No Bueno if you care about your physique and exercise performance.
“But Paul, it’s called balance and living life!”
I agree. And I know you’re not eating like a savage regularly – at least, I hope not. But what if I told you that you could significantly limit that negative impact when overindulging by focusing your attention on one specific food…would you consider changing your strategy?
Would you skip the fries and gravitate towards the wings?
Would you bypass the baked goods and choose the cheese plate instead?
If you want to overeat while simultaneously minimizing the repercussions, the best nutrient to overeat is protein!
Eating more protein will help to curb your appetite and lessen your overall intake, thus, helping to prevent you from straying too far from your daily calorie goal (while still enjoying yourself). Ultimately, you’ll only take a baby step off plan, rather than three or four giant steps backward.
Read on to learn three reasons that prioritizing protein when you know you’ll be overeating may significantly reduce the caloric impact of your meal.
1. PROTEIN ISN’T STORED
Unlike carbohydrates and fat, protein isn’t stored in the body. When you eat carbohydrates, they’re stored (as glycogen) in either your muscles or liver. The average male stores 400 – 500 grams of glycogen in the body, but when this amount is exceeded, carbohydrates can be broken down, converted to fat, and then stored in fat cells.
And of course, you and I both know that we’re capable of storing plenty of fat…
But protein, not so much. When we eat more protein than we need – remember that protein plays several roles in the body beyond muscle growth and repair – its constituent amino acids are further broken down and converted to intermediary molecules within carbohydrate-fat- protein metabolic pathways.
Even though the conversion pathway from protein to intermediary molecule to fatty acids does exist, you’d have to eat a cow and a half just to increase the likelihood some protein may be sent for fat conversion. That’s because after being absorbed by the small intestine, amino acids head to the liver. The liver serves as a regulator of sorts and can change the fate of these amino acids in real time based on the current needs and conditions of the body. This means that amino acids may be directed for needs throughout the body last second before any action down the fat conversion pathway begins.
How much protein is needed to direct amino acids toward fat storage?
The amount of protein necessary to make any significant impact on fat accumulation has not yet been determined, but studies feeding subjects up to five times the amount of the recommended 0.35 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day has shown favorable changes in body composition (increase in lean body mass, decrease in fat mass), so it’s likely that the amount of protein needed is even more than these very high amounts. 1,2
2. IT’S HARD TO OVEREAT PROTEIN!
Yes, the protein may be converted to molecules that are eventually stored as fat if you eat too much, however, it’s very difficult to ever reach this level in one day, let alone one sitting! That’s because protein has a strong appetite-suppressing effect. When you eat protein, it not only significantly slows down digestion, which is a hunger-suppressing signal in and of itself, but it also triggers the release of an appetite-suppressing hormone known as Cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK communicates directly with the hunger center in your brain to put a pause on all hunger signaling. And the more protein you eat, the more CCK is released, and the stronger the appetite-suppressing signal becomes.
3. PROTEIN INCREASES THE NUMBER OF CALORIES YOU BURN!
If you’re going to overeat, wouldn’t it be nice to at least overeat a food that may help you burn a few extra calories to lessen the total impact of this meal?
Yes, I thought so.
Protein has a high thermic effect of food (TEF), which refers to the increase in energy (calorie) expenditure when eating a food due to the energy expenditure required to absorb, digest, and distribute nutrients within the food. The TEF of protein is significantly higher than that of carbohydrates, or fat, meaning you burn far more calories absorbing and digesting a large amount of protein than you would a large amount of carbohydrates or fat.
THERMIC EFFECT OF FOOD (TEF)
Note: this percentage refers to the number of calories burned relative to the number of calories consumed from said nutrient.
DRINK A WHEY PROTEIN SHAKE BEFORE
To kickstart your overindulging, have a protein shake before heading to wherever the good grub is located. This will help get the hunger-suppressing wheels turning so that you’re less likely to eat as many calories as usual.
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition used this approach to examine the impact it had on curbing subject’s appetite when presented with an all-you- can-eat pasta bar. 2 They fed men and women a 400-calorie shake consisting of either 13, 25, or 50 grams of whey protein and then asked them to eat as much as they wished at a pasta bar 90 minutes later.
Researchers observed a significant difference in the number of calories consumed between groups; those who consumed more protein before consumed significantly fewer calories from the pasta bar versus those consuming less protein. Men in the group consumed an average of 450 fewer calories after consuming 50 grams of whey protein prior to the pasta bar compared to the initial study in which they ate as the wished with no prior protein shake.
So, do yourself a favor and snag a shake beforehand. It’ll go a long way…in helping to curtail your appetite.
- Antonio, J., Peacock, C. A., Ellerbroek, A., Fromhoff, B., & Silver, T. (2014). The effects of consuming a high protein diet (4.4 g/kg/d) on body composition in resistance-trained individuals. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11(1), 19.
- Antonio, J., Ellerbroek, A., Silver, T., Orris, S., Scheiner, M., Gonzalez, A., & Peacock, C. A. (2015). A high protein diet (3.4 g/kg/d) combined with a heavy resistance training program improves body composition in healthy trained men and women–a follow-up investigation. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12(1), 39.
Astbury, N. M., Stevenson, E. J., Morris, P., Taylor, M. A., & Macdonald, I. A. (2010). Dose–response effect of a whey protein preload on within-day energy intake in lean subjects. British journal of nutrition, 104(12), 1858-1867.