Everything You Need to Know About Protein: How a High Protein Diet Helps Weight Loss

Written by: Ashleigh Tosh



Time to read 7 min

Over the past decade, give or take, there’s been a defiant boom in the number of high protein products available to purchase.

Once a sector dominated by powders and shakes you can now enjoy high protein yoghurts, snacks, bars, crisps, rice cakes, cereals, energy balls, cookies and so – much – more.

In fact, the Global High Protein Based Food Market is now on course to reach £63 billion by 2030, and considering this was only expected to reach £8 billion by 2017 (that’s an almighty 687% increase in just 13 years!), it’s fair to say the protein market isn’t slowing down any time soon.

But why has there been such a surge in protein popularity?

Well Goal Planners, the answer is actually pretty simple – healthy lifestyles.

According to the latest Global Protein Ingredient Market report (2024) protein ingredients have soared in popularity because of a growing emphasis on health, well-being, and nutritional awareness.

Just as more people endeavour to pursue active lifestyles, so too has there been an increase in understanding sports nutrition in order to support goals, optimise performance, boost recovery, and give an overall health lift.

Yet while the muscle building and recovery benefits of a high protein diet have been widely known for quite some time, more research is coming out on how a high protein diet can help those looking to lose weight.

Over the next while, we will be diving into the realm of macronutrients – that’s protein, carbohydrates, and fats - and how they can affect your weight loss journey, kicking off with – you guessed it – protein.

So, if you’re not too sure what all the fuss is about, or have never really given your daily protein intake a second thought, read on and we’ll uncover just how vital this macronutrient is in helping you reach and smash your weight loss goals for good…

What is a high protein diet?

Credit: Diet Doctor, www.youtube.com/@dietdoctor

When we talk about a high protein diet, it's all about increasing the proportion of protein-rich foods in your daily meals.

This means incorporating sources such as lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and nuts, plus a few of those high in protein alternatives we mentioned earlier as they’re often a really tasty way to notch up your intake without much effort.

But why should we care about how much protein we’re actually eating on a daily basis? Well, protein aids recovery, builds and repairs tissue (including muscle tissue) and can even help you on your weight loss journey.

The thing is, many folk simply aren’t eating enough protein to reap all the benefits of a high protein diet!

Of course, protein intake varies depending on factors like age, gender, weight, and activity level. But, as a general guideline, aim for about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

That said, older individuals or those engaging in intense physical activity or strength training will need higher amounts, approximately 1.2-2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

To hit your daily protein targets, aim for a minimum of 0.8g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.

For more active lifestyles, aim for 1.2g-2g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.

How does high protein aid weight loss?

“Protein is a key macronutrient when it comes to a balanced healthy diet especially when your goal is weight loss,” says Goal Plans very own PT Steve Ahern .

“Consuming a high amount of protein will help reduce your appetite and your hunger levels. This in turn will help reduce your snacking where most people add in their calories.”

Basically, protein is the VIP of the macronutrient world when it comes to weight loss. Not only does it rev up your metabolism, but it also has a high thermic effect, meaning your body burns more calories digesting protein compared to fats and carbs. This metabolic boost can give your weight loss efforts a much-needed push.

In fact, several studies have shown that diets high in protein can lead to greater weight loss results:

“Numerous short-term studies and a recent meta-regression of these studies have shown that higher-protein, reduced-carbohydrate weight-loss diets are associated with greater fat loss and reduced lean mass loss compared with diets higher in carbohydrate or lower in protein.” - Paddon-Jones et al. 2008, Pg 1558S-1561S.

Weight Loss

One of the reasons why a high protein diet is so good for weight loss is because it’s been scientifically proven to be incredibly satiating - thus keeping hunger at bay and preventing those dreaded snack attacks. The study in question found that in just “16-weeks, subjects consuming a high-protein (34%)/lower-fat (29%) diet reported greater post meal satiety than subjects consuming a standard protein (18%)/higher-fat (45%) diet.” (Clifton et al. 2008, Pg 23-29)

How does this happen?

Well, when we consume protein, it triggers the release of hormones that signal fullness, such as peptide YY and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). Simply put, these hormones curb your hunger pangs thus reducing the likelihood of eating too many calories, and, as we all know, the only way to effectively lose weight is to be in a calorie deficit.

Protein Packed Goodies on Goal Plans

High protein and muscle mass

During a caloric deficit for weight loss, the body can sometimes break down muscle for energy, leading to a reduction in muscle mass. However, with a high protein diet, you can help safeguard your hard-earned muscle. This is crucial as preserving muscle mass ensures that the weight lost comes from fat stores rather than valuable muscle tissue.

One study found that when overweight women consumed a high-protein diet and engaged in regular exercise over a 12-week period, they lost more weight and preserved more muscle mass compared to women who consumed a low-protein diet.

Another study that looked at overweight men found that those who followed a high-protein diet and engaged in resistance training lost more body fat while keeping more muscle mass compared to those following a low-protein diet.

In a nutshell, High Protein + Regular Exercise = Less Body Fat & Better Muscle Tone!

"...higher-protein reduced carbohydrate weight-loss diets are associated with greater fat loss and reduced lean mass loss compared with diets higher in carbohydrate or lower in protein..."


Lean Muscle Mass

High protein diet vs. other diets

When compared to other popular diets like low-fat or low carb, a high protein diet has its unique advantages.

Research has shown that high protein diets can lead to greater fat loss while preserving lean muscle mass. Additionally, the satiating effects of protein can make it easier to stick to your dietary goals, setting you up for sustainable weight loss success in the long term.

Meanwhile, another study that compared the effects of a high-protein diet with a low-fat diet found that the high-protein group lost more weight and kept more muscle mass compared to the low-fat group. They also experienced greater improvements in markers of heart health compared to those following a low-fat diet.

High Protein Food

8 top tips to boost your protein intake

First things first, set your protein intake goals based on your body weight and activity level. As a rule of thumb, aim for at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, although if you’re very active try to aim for 1.2g per kilo of bodyweight instead. Track your intake using a foodie app like Macrofactor or MyFitnessPal to make sure you’re hitting those targets.

When planning your meals, make sure to include a good balance of protein, healthy fats, and fibre-rich carbs to keep you feeling full and energised throughout the day. It's also helpful to plan and prepare your meals in advance to ensure you always have protein-rich options on hand.

If you're on a plant-based diet, there are plenty of options for protein-rich foods. Sources such as beans, tempeh, tofu, quinoa, and nuts are excellent sources of plant-based protein. 

Replace cereal with eggs – Cereal is a waste of time and provides little nutrients. 3 large eggs provides 19g of protein so a great way to start your day.

Choose Greek yoghurt – 100g serving provides 10g worth of protein and goes well with mixed fruit. Easy and tasty!

Include a high protein food with each of your meals – Foods such as red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, soy products like tofu.

Snack on nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios. Avoid going for the crips and chocolate and substitute them for nuts.

Add in a protein shake – This is a quick and easy way to rapidly increase your protein intake. Be careful in which one you choose, they’re mostly the same and some are extortionate so don’t be duped into buying the highest one thinking it’s the best one for you.

"Consuming a high amount of protein will help reduce your appetite and your hunger levels. This in turn will help reduce your snacking where most people add in their calories."

Goal Plans PT - Steve Ahern

Final Thoughts…

There’s no doubt whatsoever that a high-protein diet is a powerful tool for achieving weight loss and improving overall health.

By boosting metabolism, preserving muscle mass, and keeping hunger at bay, protein provides a winning formula for sustainable weight management.

However, it's really important to be mindful that individual dietary needs vary, and consulting with healthcare professionals or nutritionists can offer personalised guidance for the best approach to upping your protein intake to help your weight loss journey.

And remember, making the switch to a high-protein diet is not just about losing weight, it’s also about embracing a lifestyle that promotes wellness and vitality. 

So, go ahead Goal Planners and incorporate those protein-packed meals into your daily routine, and watch the pounds melt away while your energy soars!

Ashleigh Tosh

Author - Ashleigh Tosh

Wordsmith, bookworm, and avid food enthusiast. With a background in broadcast journalism, she has been writing for the health & wellness sector for a decade. Ashleigh is the lead copywriter at MuscleFood, feeding her passion for all things food and fitness. When she's not writing or typing away, you might find her sweating it out in the gym, exploring culinary creations in the kitchen, or conquering Scottish Munros.


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