Protein: The Secret to Fat Loss

protein fat loss tips

By Taylor Robbins, CSCS, USAW, CPT
A lot of people will admit that protein is definitely important for building muscle, which it is, but for the sake of this article, we will discuss its benefits with fat loss.
Interestingly, most of our fat loss clients complain of eating too much food.  How can this be?
“I thought losing weight was about eating less calories?”  This is true, well, partially.
Everyone wants to know the one trick to losing those stubborn pounds and the nutritional secret to getting lean.  A lot of people will even blame genetics or body type for their extra pounds.
The truth is, EVERYONE can accomplish transformation and achieve a level of fat loss for them-selves.

One of the big ways to do this is to simply increase your dense protein intake.

Protein does in fact help repair cells in the body, especially muscle cells after intense exercise and resistance training.  But, it is not limited to just muscle cells.  It helps rebuild and replenish skin cells, nail cells, hair cells, and other structures of the body.  Outside of cell regeneration, protein has many POSITIVE EFFECTS ON FAT LOSS. These effects include:
1. Thermic Effect of Protein

Every time we eat food, the body expends energy digesting the food.  On average, eating a 300 calorie meal, you will likely burn 30 calories just digesting the food.  The great thing about protein is it has double the thermic effect as carbs and fats.  So, eating more protein causes a heightened internal temperature in the body from taking more work to digest the proteins which burns more calories in itself and helps raise your body’s total metabolism.

2. Cellular Turnover

All the cells in our bodies are constantly becoming new cells.  This is called cellular turnover.  During one stage of the cell reproduction process, called the G2 phase, protein synthesis plays a big role in producing microtubules which are necessary for cell division.  This way, we constantly have new, fresh cells in the body which allow better performance of the gastrointenstinal tract (better digestion) and the endocrine glands (hormone glands) as well as other tissues and organs in the body. [3]

3. Cause a Positive Nitrogen Balance 

Because of daily living, exercise, stress, and other physical functions, our bodies continue to expel nitrogen via urine.  Being in a negative nitrogen balance as well as low amino acid content leads to more muscle mass degradation and skeletal muscle loss. [1]

Protein is the only macronutrient which carries a nitrogen ion.  For this reason, consuming a higher than recommended protein diet will help keep the body in a positive nitrogen balance to maintain and increase in lean muscle mass which can lead to a higher metabolism and less fat mass. [1]

4. Regulate Insulin

Insulin is the pancreatic hormone that tells our body to raise blood glucose and transfer energy substrates to and from their appropriate cells.  Insulin in itself does not cause fat gain but having chronic high levels of insulin causes a resistance to insulin where the body continues to release more because energy substrate transfer isn’t happening.  This causes a cascade of metabolic effects which lead to fat gain.


Insulin can be thought of as the aging hormone as insulin levels rise with age.


When protein is ingested, a hormone called glucagon is released.  Glucagon helps balance insulin to create balance in the blood for glucose levels.  This creates better insulin sensitivity and allows the metabolic effects of energy transfer and use which leads to more lipolysis (burning fat). [2]

In addition, protein will not be used for fat cell creation or glucose storage which means it doesn’t have properties to put on fat.  With all this extra food in your body, you will likely have more satiety and eat less calories which will place you in an energy deficit to lose weight.

Body Temple System Protein Recommendations

Men:  Eat 1-2 palm-sized servings of dense protein foods such as meats, eggs, and other animal based foods every meal (approximately 1g of protein per pound of body weight)
Women: Eat 1-1.5 palm-sized servings of dense protein foods such as meats, eggs, and other animal based foods every meal (approximately 1g of protein per pound of body weight)
If you want specific coaching and direction, and think you need a complete nutritional strategy with accountability systems and dietary changes, check out our eating system.




  1. Nutrition, Metabolism, and Exercise Laboratory, Donald W. Reynolds Center on Aging, Slot 806, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA.
  2. Norman, J. The Important Roles of Insulin and Glucagon: Diabetes and Hypoglycemia. Retrieved from
  3. Slavov N., Botstein D. (June 2011). “Coupling among Growth Rate Response, Metabolic Cycle and Cell Division Cycle in Yeast”. Molecular Biology of the Cell 22: 1997–2009. DOI:10.1091/mbc.E11-02-0132. PMID 21525243.






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