Dr Sally Norton, NHS Weight Loss Surgeon and Consultant & Founder of discusses how protein can help you lose weight.

When it comes to weight-loss we are always looking to spotlight a particular food group as the hero or villain. We talked about fats for years – they were DEFINITELY the reason behind our obesity crisis and so we were sold low-fat, sugary and processed food to make us all slim and healthy. Oooops! Well, that certainly didn’t work. In fact, contrary to what we used to believe, we now know that healthy fats are good in moderation and actually better than most of the substitutes we existed on for years. Then the focus turned to fruit and veg; health professionals tried to persuade us to eat at least 5 a day to reduce our risk of heart disease, various cancers, and numerous other health problems. That still holds true – we really do need to increase our fruit and veg intake. Though, in our quest to make our diets healthier, we need to be careful that we don’t buy into the health halo which has us believing that gallons of fruit juice and smoothies or foods sweetened with ‘natural fruit juice’ or packed with dried fruits are fine…just look at the sugar count on the labelling and you will see how wrong that can be. Then the attention turned to carbs – the lower the better, with many of us now trying to avoid all carbs, worrying about gluten intolerance and complaining of constipation and bad breath! For sure, we eat far too many carbs, due to the old advice which encouraged us to cut out fat and bulk up with carbs to keep us feeling full. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Good, whole-grain carbs can help us feel full, give us the fibre we need for good health and it’s a lot easier to eat out if you aren’t fussing about every trace of carbohydrate that restaurants or friends may be trying to serve you! But protein hasn’t had that much attention other than in weight-building and fitness circles. Many women, in particular, haven’t really woken up to the fact that protein can be a huge ally when it comes to weight-loss. For them, protein is more of a man-thing, all about boosting muscle. But muscle is a good thing. It ensures that our body functions efficiently – reducing the risk of illness. It boosts metabolism – helping weight-loss. And contrary to the belief of many women, that having more muscle makes us look huge or masculine; it actually gives us definition and can make us look slimmer! However, as women are naturally lower in muscle mass than men and our muscle levels decrease with age; we should be ensuring we keep our muscles primed! Most of us may not eat enough protein… unless there are reasons to the contrary, we should be aiming for around 1.2-1.5g/kg body weight. Apparently, this amount has been shown to promote weight and fat losses whilst preserving muscle mass. If you weigh 70kg, that equates to around 100g protein per day…so what can you do to achieve that target this New Year? So, put simply, what we need for our health is: – good fats in moderation – plenty of fruit and veg – to bin the processed carbs in favour of smaller amounts of wholegrain or unrefined varieties – …and don’t forget the protein! Good Luck and Happy New Year!


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