Are You Having Trouble Losing Fat? Then, You’re Probably Not Eating Enough Protein

How come you’re on a diet and you’re not seeing the spare tire shrink? There can be several possible reasons why. First and foremost, one explanation can be that you’re not eating enough protein. Read on and learn about how to choose and add certain foods to help lose belly fat.

More in the Middle

In general, when people gain weight, the fat gets distributed to all parts of the body. However, certain types of behaviors can cause fat to get disposed, plunk, right in the middle. Stressing out, losing lots of sleep, and eating too much sugar are a few of the culprits.

You may not be terribly overweight. Your legs and arms may be lean, but you can still have belly fat. Those who carry a majority of their weight in the middle are more prone to cardiovascular disease and other dangerous health risks. Hence, it’s time to get rid of the “beer gut.” (By the way, non beer-drinkers can still be prone to growing a larger middle, too.)

One Simple Explanation

Everyone understands that a higher metabolism makes you more efficient at burning calories. That’s why exercise is so important. Many people who workout exhibit a greater metabolic rate. Strength training and muscle-building are also essential to increasing metabolism.

Most noteworthy, protein helps build muscle. If you lose muscle mass, your fat-burning mechanism slows down. Therefore, if you don’t eat enough protein, you’re not going to burn calories as effectively.

There is a terrific list of foods to help lose belly fat.  Of course, they include a gamut of proteins.

Protein Can Satisfy You

The hunger hormone actually increases when we eat carbs and certain fats. Conversely, protein boosts the “feeling satisfied” hormone. If you’re not feeling hungry (and don’t eat), you will take in fewer calories. More protein and fewer calories will keep your tummy and brain happy. And, you’ll begin to lose weight.

In fact, your body burns more calories processing protein than fats or carbs. And, there’s something else to keep in mind if you want to burn and use fat as energy. It needs help from protein and/or complex carbs. (Additionally, FYI, not all carbs are evil.)

Pro-Plant, Pro-Animal, Protein

There’s always the discussion of whether vegetarians are getting enough protein in their diets. Essentially, it will depend on the types of foods vegetarians eat and how often. There is plenty of protein to be found from plant-based sources.

Now remember, protein helps build muscle. Leucine is an element in protein, which assists with muscle-building. Leucine levels in plants are much lower than in animal protein. So, if you’re a bit older and finding it harder to build muscle, you may opt for the animal protein in this case.

Regardless, both plants and animals can provide the protein in the foods to help lose belly fat. Here is a list of many scrumptious items you can add to your diet:

Animal/Fish Protein Options

  • Turkey, 4 ounces @ 28 gm protein. It also contains tryptophan, which increases serotonin levels. Good food, good mood.
  • Pork, 4 ounces @ 24 gm. It’s a lean white meat.
  • Chicken, 3 ounces, 24 gm. Free range is the best.
  • Bison, 4 ounces, 23 gm. No easy to find, but worth the search.
  • Grass-fed beef, 4 ounces, 26 gm. Eat moderately as it can be high in fat.
  • Ostrich, 4 ounces, 26 gm. A lean, high-protein option. What’s a good recipe?
  • Wild Salmon, 4 ounces, 28 gm. High in omega-3 good fats.
  • Halibut, 4 ounces, 30 gm. Lean and simple to prepare.
  • Tuna, 4 ounces, 30 gm. Fresh, wild, or flash frozen. Canned is OK too, just a little less protein. Also, beware of added salt or oil.
  • Eggs, 1, 8 gm. Get cage-free. Most of the protein lies in the white, but don’t be afraid of the yellow. Contrary to past reports, the yolk, eaten in moderation, is healthy and a plentiful source of vitamin K2 and other nutrients.

Plant-Based Protein Options

  • Spinach, 1 cup cooked, 5 gm protein. Excellent as a nutritious dark, leafy green.
  • Artichoke, 1 medium-sized, 5 gm.
  • Peas, 1 cup, 8 gm. Pea protein is also fantastic as a powdered supplement in smoothies.
  • Beans, ½ cup, @8 gm. There are a variety of beans from which to choose—all high in protein and fiber.
  • Lentils, 1 cup, 18 gm. Great for soup.
  • Peanut butter, 2 tablespoons, 7 gm. All nut butters are a fine source of protein. Just make sure they do not have added sugar.
  • Greek yogurt, 4 ounces, 10gm. Again, beware of added sugar.
  • Sun dried tomatoes, 1 cup, 6 gm. Yummy in pasta dishes and salads.
  • Chia seeds, 1 ounce, 5 gm. Many types of seeds are a decent source of protein and contain other nutritional elements. Eat in moderation.
  • Almonds, cashews, 1 ounce, 6 gm. Nuts are great, some more beneficial than others. They’re a source of good fat—just don’t overdo it.

Clearly, this list of foods to help lose belly fat is just a selection of favorites. There are many other plant- and animal-based sources of protein discoverable at your local farm or market.

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What Foods Do Nutritionists Think are Healthy?

Ask the Nutritionists

Hundreds of nutritionists as well as 2,000 other Americans were polled about which foods they think are healthy. The results showed some shared beliefs but also some huge differences in perception of healthy foods.

Who Knows What?

The New York Times recently conducted its own study on the perception of healthy foods. The purpose was to get a consensus of which foods nutritionists and “regular folk” regard as healthy. For the study, the NY Times enlisted a consult group, who in turn polled 2,000 Americans. The participants were asked to rate 52 common foods in order from unhealthy to healthy. Additionally, over 600 nutritionists from the American Society for Nutrition were asked to do the same.

The results showed how nutritionists’ belief in the healthiness of certain foods varied from what the average American believes. Even some of the nutritionists, however, were split on particular foods. The consensus on butter, for example, was varied for everyone polled. The same mixed feelings occurred on the topic of whole milk and red meat.

The mixed reviews on these three specific foods point out that their nutritional value must be inconclusive. A prominent nutritionist Dariush Mozaffarian explains, “…we only know about 40 or 50 percent of what we need to know about nutrition.”

What Everyone Thinks is Good

The Americans surveyed agreed with the nutritionists on the healthfulness of several common foods. Oranges, apples, and avocados ranked among the highest in goodness. Spinach, kale, olive oil, and almonds were top choices too. Turkey and chicken made the highs ranks as well.

What Everyone Thinks is Bad

Regular soda, chocolate chip cookies, and ice cream were deemed the unhealthiest by everyone polled. Bacon, white bread, diet soda, and beer were just a couple of percentage points higher on the list, but still extremely low in good nutrition. On a scale from zero to 100 percent, hamburgers ranked at only 30% healthy for all those surveyed.

Here’s Where We Can Learn

Assuming these 600-plus nutritionists understand good food value, here’s information from which we can learn. The study points out that granola bars are deemed healthy by fewer than 30% of the experts. About 70% of the public, however, believed the bars to be healthy. Here’s the difference. The nutritionists know how much added sugars are in the popular food. We may not know because labels can misrepresent.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently agreed to review its labeling standards. Some foods we think are healthy simply are not. And, unfortunately, we have been misguided for years.

The nutritionists expressed that sushi, wine, shrimp, hummus, tofu, and quinoa are all excellent. The public didn’t seem aware of the high levels of nutritional value in these foods. Perhaps it’s because they are not “common”—yet. The other take away from this study is that most everyone agreed that “no special rules or restrictions” comprised the best diet. Balance and moderation are key.

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