The Importance of Proper Protein While Dieting

If you’re someone who’s gearing up to start on a fat loss diet, there are a number of factors that must be taken into account as you plan and prepare for it. Designing a proper diet protocol is critical as it will help you minimize the risk that you lose lean muscle mass, suffer from incredibly low energy levels, or start to find that your strength level drops off in the gym.

Part of designing a proper diet plan is making sure that you take into account your overall protein intake. Protein intake requirements will vary considerably depending on who is doing this diet, so it’s a factor that needs to be looked at into greater detail. Let’s go over what you should know.

The Lean vs. Overweight Comparison

The very first and leading factor to take into account here is how much total current body fat you have to lose. The point of difference to know is that leaner individuals who have only a few pounds of fat to lose and who are pushing the barriers on getting down to very low levels are going to be those who need to increase their protein intake up considerably more.

The reason for this is that their bodies are more inclined to start utilizing protein as a fuel source since there is less stored body fat available. The leaner your body gets, the more reluctant it’s going to be to give away the one tissue that can help sustain it during starvation – body fat, so the harder it’s going to fight you to keep losing weight.

If you are significantly overweight, your body has plenty of stored reserves to life off of for quite some time, so it’ll be less likely to use incoming protein as an energy source and more likely to be burning up fat as fuel.

The Volume of Exercise You’re Doing

The second point to be taking into consideration is the volume of exercise that you’re doing. The more exercise you do, the more tissue damage you’ll be creating so this too is going to increase your need for more protein. If you are doing more than two to three full body workouts in the gym while dieting, you would be well advised to take your protein intake up higher to help provide the nutrients your muscles need for repair.

The Intensity of Your Calorie Deficit

Finally, the last thing that needs to be addressed is the intensity of the calorie deficit to be put into place. The lower your calorie intake is while dieting, again, the more prone your body will be to turn to protein as an energy source.

For best results, aim to keep the calorie deficit between 250 to 500 calories per day. Going over and beyond that is where you are more apt to see problems occurring. So keep these points in mind as you design your fat loss diet protocol.

If you are taking into account the nature of the diet, your lifestyle, how much weight you have to lose, and your past diet history, you can rest assured that you are going to be designing things properly.

Also, remember that carbohydrates and dietary fat are protein sparing, so including them – at least to some degree – is going to be very important as well. Even if your diet was very high in protein, if that’s all you’re eating and it’s still very low in calories, you’ll be headed for trouble if you try and sustain such a plan for more than a week or two.

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About the Author

Shannon Clark has a degree in Exercise Science and is an AFLCA certified personal trainer. She has written on the topics of health, fitness and nutrition for the last eight years. Her insights are regularly published on, and FitRated is a leading fitness equipment review site offering insights on equipment, workout plans and weight loss strategies.


These resources are for the purpose of personal trainer growth and development through Continuing Education which advances the knowledge of fitness professionals. This article is written for NFPT Certified Personal Trainers to receive Continuing Education Credit (CEC). Please contact NFPT at 800.729.6378 or [email protected] with questions or for more information.
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