One of my Facebook fans recently told me they were “scared to eat too much protein.” She had it in her head that protein was only for athletic women, not for women that wanted a slim body.

I get that some of you think meat eating can be a bit “caveman” like, but there are a few reasons that my meal plan – based on the physiology of fat-burning, metabolism and appetite control – calls for lean protein and fiber-rich vegetables.

  1. Protein preserves and builds muscle mass.  Usually when you cut back on calories, your body responds by cannibalizing muscle tissue and sparing fat tissue. This is destructive because your muscle tissue runs your metabolism. Numerous studies, however, show that increasing the amount of protein in your diet helps preserve muscle mass, even when calorie intake is very low.
  2. Protein prevents hunger.  Protein takes longer to digest than do carbohydrates, so it will help you feel satisfied for a longer period of time, preventing cravings and overeating. In one study, researchers split formerly obese participants who had recently lost a considerable amount of weight into two groups, with one group eating 48 more grams of protein a day than the other. Both groups consumed the same number of total calories. After 4 weeks, those in the high-protein group regained half as much weight as the higher carb group and reported increased satisfaction after their meals.
  3. Protein boosts your metabolism. Your body burns more calories to digest protein than it does to digest carbohydrates or fat. Each pound of muscle you lose results in 35 to 50 fewer calories a day that your body burns for energy.