Lack of protein causes overeating and weight gain! 5 ways to deal with it

Your unwarranted hunger, which occasionally drives you to overeat, can happen due to a number of causes. Yet, one of the main causes of this is a dietary deficit, particularly a lack of protein. You are more able to succeed and regain control over your hunger, cravings, and binge eating when your body is given the proper nutrition. But, a protein deficiency might make you feel hungry more frequently and potentially contribute to weight gain.

Health Shots got in touch with Deepti Lokeshappa, Senior Consultant and Nutritionist, and Dietician, Motherhood Hospitals, Indiranagar, Bengaluru, to find out why a lack of protein in your diet can cause you to overeat and how it can be prevented.

Lack of protein can lead to overeating and obesity

Many people believe that foods high in protein and fat can make them gain weight. But, they actually help with weight loss. How? Well, protein increases numerous satiety hormones and lowers the appetite hormone. As a result, you won’t overeat because you’ll feel satisfied for a longer time. It can also help in weight loss. On the other side, inadequate protein intake may lead to increased appetite, weight gain, and obesity.

Science behind the link between protein deficiency and overeating

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney has found that protein hunger may be a driving force behind overeating and obesity. The study suggests that a lack of protein in the body can trigger hunger and lead to overeating. You may end up eating foods high in unhealthy fats and sugar.

The researchers conducted a series of experiments on mice and humans and found that those who were protein-deficient were more likely to choose high-calorie foods and eat larger amounts of food in general. The researchers also found that when protein-deficient mice were given access to high-protein foods, their food intake decreased, and they lost weight.

This study highlights the importance of adequate protein intake in the diet, especially for those who are trying to manage their weight.

5 ways to fight protein deficiency

Here are 5 easy ways to increase your protein intake:

1. Eat more protein-rich food

You should include foods high in protein in your meals. Foods like eggs, fish, poultry, turkey, and other meats are the protein source for non-vegetarians. You can consume beans, tofu, soybeans, lentils, almonds, green peas, and pumpkin seeds if you’re a vegetarian. They are all great sources of protein and are easily available.

2. Snack on high-protein foods

Snacking on foods like almonds, cheese, and Greek yogurt will help you enhance your daily protein consumption for your hunger. Eating healthy snacks is a great way to reduce the risk of overeating and weight gain.

3. Use protein powder

According to Lokeshappa, protein powder is available in both plant-based and animal-based forms. A simple approach to increase your protein consumption is by mixing protein powder into smoothies or cereal. For best effects, mix protein powder with cold water and milk before drinking.

4. Opt for protein-rich breakfasts

You can feel fuller for longer if you start your day with a protein-rich breakfast like eggs or Greek yoghurt. Dalia, sprout salad, paneer bhurji, poha, chilla, and uttapam.

5. Choose protein bars or snacks

For people who are constantly on the go and require a quick protein boost, protein bars, and snacks are convenient options. It is an easy method to supplement your diet with protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. In fact, it can aid in reducing unnecessary cravings that lead to overeating.

If you are underweight, don’t gorge on chips! Here’s how to gain weight in a healthy way

Being underweight can be as unhealthy as being overweight or obese. Too less or too much, both are wrong and hence, there needs to be a balance. An underweight person is highly likely to be malnourished and be nutrient deficient which can pose many health risks. But starting to binge eat and not exercise is not the right way to go about it. So, here’s how to gain weight in a healthy way to achieve a normal BMI (Body Mass Index).

A healthy person will have their BMI ranging from 18.5 to 24.9. But a person who is underweight will have their BMI below 18.5 and will be prone to some health risks like the development of diseases classified as civilization diseases, such as diabetes, stroke, atherosclerosis, hypertension and nutrition disorders.

A person who is underweight will be thin and deficient in many necessary vitamins and minerals which will lead to a weak immune system and higher risk of infections. They will also feel tired and nauseated most of the time. So, if you fall under this category then you are right to think about gaining weight. That will make you healthier and much more in control of your body. It is important that when you are on a weight gain journey that you are gaining weight through muscle mass instead of fats, so let’s take a look at the ways to achieve that.

Here’s how to gain weight:

1. Increase the number of meals

If you are underweight, it is highly probable that you have a small appetite and maybe eat only one or two proper meals a day. This will need to be changed. If you have a small appetite that is fine but you need to increase the frequency of your meals. Eat small portions but eat 5-6 meals a day. 3 can proper huge meals and then you can snack in between them. According to a 2017 study published in PubMed Central, an increase in the eating frequency is bound to lead to weight gain.

2. Protein and carbohydrate-rich diet

Protein is known to promote muscle growth. A healthy intake of protein rich foods will make a huge difference on your weight and what you will gain will not be fats. Foods like eggs, meat, fish, lentils, legumes, etc. are extremely rich sources of protein. Vegans can also opt for tofu, another protein rich source. Also including dairy products like yogurt and carbohydrate rich foods like potatoes in your diet will help you.

3. Exercise

When looking to gain weight, it is best to stick to weight training. Exercising with barbells and dumbbells will lead to muscle gain and hence promote healthy weight gain. A 2011 study shows that 3-5 times of weight training per week leads to a significant weight gain.

4. Sleep

The usual recommended hours of sleep is 6-8 hours. But a 2011 study claims that sleeping less than 6 hours or more than 8 hours can help you gain weight. Again, if this practice is healthy or not remains debatable but participants of the study showed an increase in their weight by following this method too.

How to lose weight with PCOS? 7 lifestyle tips to follow

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder commonly found among women of child-bearing age. While PCOS is generally regarded as a fertility problem, there are several layers to it and there are many more problems that come with it which women suffering from PCOS endure on a daily basis. One such problem faced by women is that of weight gain. Many women who suffer from PCOS also have insulin resistance which results in the body facing difficulty to convert glucose from the blood to energy. As a result, the body needs to produce more insulin to balance sugar levels. Insulin resistance is a common cause of obesity and more than half the women who suffer from PCOS also suffer from obesity. So, the question of how to lose weight with PCOS becomes all the more relevant.

PCOS management is tough and the more obese you are, the more problems you will develop since obesity is known to further hamper your hormones and impact your fertility. It is important to keep your weight in check so that you do not suffer from any of these problems.

Tips to lose weight with PCOS:

Dr. Suhasini Inamdar, Consultant – Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Indiranagar, Bengaluru, suggests the following lifestyle habits for anyone battling PCOS.

1. Eat a balanced diet:

Refrain from the ‘one size fits all’ approach as a diet plan needs to be tailored according to your body type. Doctors recommend balancing your diet with protein, vegetables and healthy fats. Avoid foods that are rich in carbs and sugar. Try to add more fiber rich foods to your diet as it helps you feel full after a meal and is good for digestion. Add fermented food to your diet which helps in increasing metabolism and losing weight.

2. Avoid processed food:

Processed foods have added sugar which increases blood sugar levels and increase insulin resistance in your body. Research shows that women with PCOS have demonstrated greater spikes in blood sugar levels after consuming the same quantity of sugar as compared to woman who does not have PCOS. Processed foods can be convenient but are detrimental to your health.

3. Exercise regularly:

Women who exercise for at least 30 minutes are at a lower risk of obesity, which also increases chances of weight loss. While Women suffering from PCOS take longer to lose weight as compared to women who do not, exercise helps them to lose weight gradually.

4. Don’t over-restrict calories or indulge in over-exercising

Cutting out too many calories from your diet can not be good for your health as it may result in nutritional deficiencies which are linked to several health problems. Over-indulging in exercising too is known to hamper estrogen production in your body which disturbs ovulation further.

5. Manage your cravings:

While following a diet to lose weight, it is natural to crave for something you like, which could be unhealthy for your body. However, it is important to keep your cravings in check as this could reverse the entire weight loss process and in turn result in you gaining more weight.

6. Be patient with your progress:

It takes time for women suffering from PCOS to lose weight. Be patient about your progress as it will happen gradually. Avoid making comparisons with somebody else’s weight loss journey as everybody’s body type is different.

7. Avoid self-medication

It is advisable to not self-medicate when suffering from PCOS or starting a diet or exercise without understanding the consequences that it may have on your body. It is best to speak to your gynecologist who can guide you for a PCOS diet and weight loss plan regarding the same. He/she can also refer you to a nutritionist who can chart out the best possible diet plan for you in order to amp up the entire weight loss process by ensuring that your body gets all the nutrients that it requires.

Battling obesity? Try these tips for portion control

The battle to fight weight gain can seem never-ending. Ask those who are in the battlefield! Obesity has become a growing epidemic, with more and more people falling victim to it. The primary culprits behind obesity is the high consumption of high-calorie foods for a longer period, as well as lack of exercise. Sometimes, people tend to gorge on everything they serve themselves. Therefore, the best way to shed excess fat is by controlling the high-calorie food intake. You can do that once you learn how to practice portion control.

Health Shots reached out to Dr Kiran Rukadikar, Bariatric Consultant, to get insights on portion control. Here are a few tips he shared that can help to control those hunger pangs and stop you from overindulging – both at home or on the go.

5 tips to practice portion control

1. Reduce cravings in between meals

Sometimes, cravings feel hard to beat. You can turn to low-calorie foods like fruits, salads, skimmed milk or buttermilk. Beware! Don’t have more than one at a time. The rationale behind this is that the more gap we tend to keep in between our meals, we increase our chances of always ending up eating more during our major meals. This seems very likely, considering you may have been roaming around on an empty stomach for a long time.

So, needless to say, keep munching on those low-calorie foods by keeping them handy whenever your cravings spike. Eating right will help you reduce weight.

2. Make your meals more about salads

No one is alien to the fact that salads are always healthy. They become healthier for people battling obesity when they make it a point to incorporate salads during daily meals. This is so because salads give you a fuller feeling, and you would naturally end up eating less high-calorie foods.

3. Minimize the size of your dinnerware

Evidence suggests that the size of our plates, cutlery and glasses can unconsciously influence the amount of food one eats. For instance, placing your food on a large plate can make it look smaller, often leading to overeating.

In a study, nutritional experts scooped out 31 percent more ice cream for themselves when given larger bowls. The increase was 14.5 percent more when they were given larger serving spoons.

Interestingly, most people who ate more due to the large size of dishes were totally unaware of the increase in portion size. Dr Rukadikar adds, “Eating on smaller plates has helped many weight watchers.”

4. Drink water before meals

Drinking a glass of water 30 minutes prior to your meal will naturally help in portion control. You may drink water before or in between the meals, as filling up on water tends to reduce your appetite for the meal at hand.

5. Follow a fixed schedule for your meals

According to the expert, trying to keep a fixed time for your meals since it is considered one of the best ways to practice portion under control.

Unwanted weight gain always has its roots in large portion sizes. Portion control is the most natural quick-fix remedy to improve the quality of life by helping prevent binging.