I don’t hide the fact that I love food, and I especially love telling people how much I love sweets. Looking at the dessert menu before the dinner menu is a standard practice for me. But when I had to cut nearly 15 pounds in 6 weeks, my love for sugar had to be pushed aside, making more room for protein as the main macronutrient in my diet.
Those 6 weeks were some of the most physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging weeks of my life. Between sticking to a strict diet, double training sessions, and working my normal job, I was taxed. But the process and diet taught me so much–in fact, more than I could ever imagine–about what it means to eat right.
1. Planning + Prepping are Mandatory
While my diet consisted of maybe eight items with extremely small portions, it still took major planning on my end. I had to account for the proper amount of protein in each meal. Not only that, but I also had to be sure I was eating the right kind of protein at the right times. It's a lot of work. And having my meals prepped helped me stay on track and achieve my goals.
2. Not Hunger, Just Boredom
I consider myself a foodie. Eating is a social thing and I love trying new foods, especially if I’m traveling to a far-off place, or a domestic location that is known for having rich, wonderful food. But when you have an aggressive goal, it's hard to leave wiggle room in your diet. What I noticed on my high-protein diet is that although I wasn't always satisfying my adventurous palate, I was always satiated. I felt full for longer periods of time. As a result, my desire to snack (even if it was out of boredom) was diminished.
3. Skin, Hair, and Nails Grow and Glow
Protein is a major building block for cell growth and regeneration. I thought I was going crazy, but even my hairstylist confirmed that my hair was growing longer, faster. My skin was glowing and I felt like I needed to get my nails done more often because they kept growing out.
4. Protein is a Metabolism Booster
I’m almost positive the second I ate something, I practically burned it off. I know, that’s one of the most annoying things to hear, but when the majority of your diet consists of protein, then you can’t really expect anything else. Your body uses energy to digest and utilizes the nutrients in food–this is known as the thermic effect of food. Macronutrients (carbs, fat, protein) are not structurally equal. In fact, protein has a higher thermic effect (TEF) than other, maybe more fun, foods that are carb-filled. So protein is definitely your friend if you are looking for an added boost in your metabolism!
If you're following a high-protein diet, don't forget there are ways to enjoy the process. Snacks like FitJoy Protein Bars can make an otherwise boring meal plan more exciting by satisfying your sweet tooth and your protein needs!
Samantha Surface is a marketing professional, writer, and amateur boxer in Boston.