How Does Protein Burn Fat?

Here's how you can use protein for fat loss!

In this article we will answer the question, how does protein burn fat? There are several mechanisms through which protein may assist the body in burning fat more effectively and we will cover each one individually.

How does protein burn fat, mechanism 1:
Stimulates glucagon release

Protein stimulates glucagon release from the pancreas and glucagon is insulin's antagonist hormone.

How does protein burn fat?

By keeping insulin production low, the body can access and utilise fat as a fuel source more effectively.

Glucagon stimulates liver breakdown of glycogen to glucose and also stimulates the gluconeogenic (production of glucose from amino acids) process in the liver by increasing the uptake of amino acids into the liver.

Glucagon also has fat-burning effects by activating an enzyme, which stimulates cyclic AMP, which of course then activates HSL.

Glucagon release is directly related to the level of glucose in the blood stream. As exercise continues, blood glucose levels fall and more glucagon is released into the blood stream. This promotes even greater fat and carbohydrate mobilisation from their storage sites in the body.

How does protein burn fat, mechanism 2:
Stimulates growth hormone (GH) release

Protein stimulates growth hormone release from the anterior (front) pituitary. It is one of the body's most powerful lipolytic (fat-burning) and anabolic (tissue-building) hormones.

By promoting gains in lean muscle, growth hormone may indirectly promote fat loss. It also acts directly on the fat cells (lipocytes) and stimulates the release of fatty acids and glycerol into the blood stream.

A particular amino acid (amino acids make up protein), glutamine, has been shown in research studies to dramatically boost growth hormone release in the body, which then may promote greater fat burning.

Growth hormone has been shown to peak in the evening during sleep. As a result, it makes sense to have slightly more protein in the evening meal before going to bed.

Perhaps a protein shake with added glutamine for supper may be even more beneficial!

How does protein burn fat, mechanism 3:
Increases protein synthesis

Protein provides the building blocks of body tissues and regular consumption of it, i.e. as a component of your 5 or 6 small meals a day, ensure your body stays in a positive nitrogen balance (an anabolic state).

By doing so, your metabolism stays elevated, which promotes greater energy expenditure and therefore greater fat burning.

How does protein burn fat, mechanism 4:
Boosts metabolism

Not only does protein promote greater energy expenditure by maintaining an elevated metabolic rate but it also boosts your metabolism because it requires more energy to be digested compared to the other macronutrients, carbohydrate and fat.

As a result, the thermic effect of food (TEE), which means the amount of energy expended through the process of digestion increases, which increases the overall amount of calories your body burns during the day.

How does protein burn fat, mechanism 5:
Suppresses appetite

Protein has powerful appetite suppressing effects, especially compared to the other macronutrients. Its appetite-suppressing qualities come from the fact that protein stimulates the release of cholecytokinin (CCK) from the stomach cells.

This hormone then travels through the blood stream to the hypothalamus in the brain where it tells the brain that the stomach is full!

From these 5 mechanisms it is easy to see why protein can help promote greater fat burning in your body. By simply making an effort to add a small portion of protein, from a variety of protein sources, to each of your meals, you can make a massive difference in helping your body burn fat much faster.

For more fat-burning information, get a copy of my e-book, Look Good Feel Great!

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