What’s the big deal about protein anyways- does it burn fat or does it not? Is it just for body builders on a “ripped” body spree or for all – including women?

Protein is submerged in confusion where its fat-burning properties are concerned.

But not for long because we are going to be answering this most common protein-related question right here.

The link between Protein and Fat Loss

Protein has the capacity to trigger three fat burning hormones which control fat loss-

  • Growth hormone produced by the master gland pituitary
  • IGF-1 , a hormone produced by your liver which in turn is triggered by your protein consumption
  • Glucagon, a hormone which opposes the effect of insulin, the hormone responsible for breaking down sugar and lowering sugar levels in the bloodstream.

Of the three, glucagon is the most important for fat loss as it actually helps your body release stored fats and opposes the action of another hormone called insulin which helps you store fat.

Remember, insulin is enemy no.1 where fat burning and losing weight is concerned.

So, as protein triggers the fat- burning hormone glucagon and counters insulin which makes you fat, it does, in fact, burn fat at a cellular level.

Apart from this, there are the other more well-known reasons for eating more protein for its fat burning properties, like-

  • Protein is satiating. It keeps you full longer- a really important point when you’re dieting.
  • Protein makes your body burn calories in order to digest it. For every 100 calories of protein you eat, you’ll burn off around 20-25 in just the digestion process. This means you only save around 75-80 of those calories as fat.
  • With carbohydrates, you’ll burn off around four calories per 100 that you eat and with fats, you’ll only burn off two.

Now, this may not seem like that big of a difference, but it can really add up over time.

  • Protein also improves your metabolism which helps you maintain your optimum body weight.

How much Protein should you Eat?


The recommended daily dose of protein is 0.8 g per kilogram of your body weight.

But many experts peg this around 0.4 g per kilogram of body weight daily.

This means you need approximately 78 g of protein daily.

Or breaking it down further, 26 g protein per meal.

So, in effect, if you eat 4 eggs for breakfast, you effectively consume your 26 g per meal quota.

The recommended limit for protein also depends on your age, the level of activity and your sex. If you are a male athlete, exercising and breaking down muscle, you’ll require up to 3g or more protein per kilogram of body weight daily.

Related Article: Daily Protein Requirement: How much Protein you need per Day?

Under what Conditions does Protein NOT burn fat?

Here are some ‘Protein’ rules to live by if you want to Lose Weight:

  • 1) Overeating proteins can be counter-productive where weight –loss is concerned since all extra proteins in the body are converted into sugar that raises levels of insulin, the body’s fat storing hormone. So, eating too much protein over the recommended dose will make you fatter, especially if you are eating lean protein which means pure protein without the fat attached. For example, when you eat skin-less chicken and then remove all the fat before cooking it- you are actually taking away the chicken protein’s potency for weight loss.
  • 2) How much protein you can safely eat and digest also depends on your liver. You may not be aware of your liver, but it’s the most important organ where your body weight is concerned as it helps break down protein. When young, you can tolerate more protein and not so much as you get older. A bad liver, fatty liver and your girth, all prevent you from digesting and using protein; keeping you fat.
  • 3) No- sugar-added– Don’t consume sugar with protein as this effectively blocks any of the protein’s capacity to burn fat. In fact, the sugar also triggers the enemy no.1 for dieters- insulin. So, make sure you have your steak without the ketchup and your chicken hamburger without the burger which is pure insulin-triggering carbs.
  • 4) Digestibility– Some people may lack the ability to digest red meat. If you are one of them, try eating fish or chicken or seafood. This is an age- related phenomenon. As you age, your stomach produces less acid progressively. And you start getting gas and bloating. Stomachs that don’t have enough acid can’t digest protein and reap its body –building and fat- burning benefits. If you get frequent indigestion, it means that means your stomach doesn’t have enough acid. So, treat this first before you turn to protein for weight loss.

Now that we’ve got the quantity and other bits related to protein and fat- loss out of the system so to speak, let’s talk about the quality of different types of protein-rich foods and their capacity to burn fat.

What Type of Protein Burns Fat Faster?

  • Red meat which includes lamb and beef is a complete protein which means it contains all 24 amino acids. It also doesn’t cause allergies. These are its two big pluses. The negatives are that red meat is very difficult to digest especially as we age. What you can do is eat smaller pieces and chew longer.
  • Chicken– This is easier to digest, cheaper than red meat and a good source of protein. The negatives are that farm-fed chicken meat is full of dangerous cancer-causing chemicals like Arsenic and Formaldehyde.
  • Eggs– These are very good sources of protein. The egg yolks are very nutritious and should be eaten along with the egg white, always. Eggs are simply the best protein available today, but they should be sourced from free-range birds to prevent a dangerous build-up of pesticides in your body.
  • Fish– It contains high, good quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids. But make sure that the fish does not contain high levels of mercury and pesticides.
  • Pork– It’s a good source of protein and highly digestible to boot.
  • Dairy– The protein in packaged milk is dead because milk is cooked at 160 degrees centigrade during pasteurisation. Drinking milk from farmers is best as it doesn’t have antibiotics and hormones and is protein-rich. Yogurt is an awesome source of protein because of the friendly bacteria in it. Cheese is a good protein too but the downside is that it contains high carbohydrates and carbohydrates as we know trigger insulin and stop fat burning.
  • Soya is a good quality protein but you should have it in low quantities only as it can actually damage your liver. So, we would leave it out of our plate at mealtimes. It can also cause allergies.
  • Whey protein is obtained as a liquid by-product during the production of cheese and is used widely as a dietary supplement for muscle growth and recovery after a work-out. It is also an excellent immune booster containing a good dose of vitamins and minerals. Get the MFF 100% Whey Protein in Swiss Vanilla flavor. This product is available in 80:20 ratio of Whey concentrate & Whey Protein Isolate. It is Glutamate-rich and an ultra-pure protein ideal for lean mass growth.
  • Plant proteins like in beans and legumes- Most plant sources of protein like bean protein or rice protein are not complete. Which in common-speak means that they don’t contain all the 24 amino acids.
  • Hemp, a natural protein also tends to bloat people.
  • Pea protein has branch amino acids that help in recovery after exercise. It can be used in protein shakes as it tastes good as well, unlike other protein powders.
  • Algal proteins like Spirulina are also excellent sources of protein but they are way too expensive.

So, you can eat animal proteins, especially, pork to fulfil your dietary protein needs. Egg is also excellent and so is milk and fish. But, make sure that you don’t consume pesticides, arsenic and other chemicals that come bound with animal protein.

Ketogenic Diet

Mainstream medicine has not accepted the Ketogenic diet yet, but it is billed to be the best way to lose weight.

This diet transitions your body to a fat burning state from a carbohydrate burning state (we burn glucose to produce energy) that we are living in right now.

The Ketogenic diet recommends getting:

  • 75 % of your calories from fats
  • 25% from proteins
  • And 2-3 % from carbohydrates

This diet works by cutting out almost all carbs from your diet which improves insulin resistance and drives weight loss.

The diet also reduces risk of cancer as cancers feed on sugar, decreases inflammation, and reduces digestive problems like bloating while keeping your heart and arteries healthy.

Related Article: The Ultimate List Of Ketogenic Diet Foods For Vegetarian

So, we hope that we have answered your question- Does protein burn fat, satisfactorily, and have given you enough good reasons to add more protein to your day.

Please do leave a comment about your reactions, more questions on weight-loss and diet in the comment section below.

Also, do let us know what topics related to weight loss and fitness do you need more information on, and we shall be happy to provide it.

Shikha Gandhi

The author Shikha Gandhi

has covered health as a TV journalist. She is a health freak with a passion for fitness, diets, and healing. She writes on health and makes programs and focuses on the subject too.
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