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Calories Burned Digesting Protein

author image Craig Smith
Craig Smith covers weight loss and exercise programming for various online publications. He has been a personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise since 2001. Smith also holds a diploma in exercise physiology and kinesiology from the National Personal Training Institute.
Calories Burned Digesting Protein
Black bean soup in a bowl on a table. Photo Credit: -lvinst-/iStock/Getty Images

Protein aids in metabolic increase due to its role in preserving lean muscle tissue. This macronutrient also possesses a higher thermic effect, meaning protein takes more calories to digest compared to carbohydrates and fats.

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Thermic Effect of Protein

Thermic effect of food is described as the energy expended by our bodies in order to consume and metabolize food. According to Calories per, “protein requires the greatest expenditure of energy, with estimates ranging as high as 30 percent.” This means you will burn up to 30 percent of the calories in the protein you consumed merely to digest.

Protein and Weight Loss

While losing weight, your lean muscle mass is susceptible to being burned for energy without sufficient carbohydrates in your diet. Leucine, an amino acid found in protein, prevents muscle loss during the weight-trimming period. Since lean muscle requires calories to survive, consuming sufficient quantities of protein will aid in preserving muscle and metabolism.

Protein Consumption

Protein should be consumed through several meals throughout the day to increase metabolism and meet daily requirements. Sources include lean meats like chicken, turkey and fish in addition to beans and nut sources like almonds and black beans. Proper protein consumption promotes a healthy body and metabolism.

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