Weight-loss experts have always encouraged us to fill our plates with produce as a way to reap the benefits of its hunger-busting fiber, along with its antioxidants and other nutrients. But if you’ve been laser-focused on loading up on fruits and vegetables, your diet may need more lean protein. You should have a serving every few hours, says Brill. Nuts, eggs, and meat are more caloric than an apple or a pile of power greens—but the protein will keep you full longer and can lower your overall calorie intake for the day.
Moreover, a 2015 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that incorporating protein into every meal and snack—starting with breakfast—helps control appetite and manage body weight. “A balanced diet that includes some protein helps fuel your muscles,” explains Brill. And as you already know, the more lean body mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate will be. Not to mention, your body has to work harder to digest protein, and through that process you burn even more calories.
Don’t protein-load. But do try making a more conscious effort to get small, regular doses: Eat eggs or almond butter in the a.m., for example. Make meat, fish, or legumes (like beans and peas) a key component of your lunch and dinner. And snack on hummus, nuts, kefir, or roasted chickpeas—all protein-packed picks to fuel your way to fit.
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