Fat and Protein
When you join the New You Fitness Challenge, you won’t simply be taking on a new exercise routine. You’ll also be adjusting your diet. As part of the fitness challenge, you’ll receive a customized nutrition plan. We are what we eat, and to help foster your body’s transformation, you need the proper fuel. Nutrition is extremely important.
These days, there’s a lot of interest in both high fat and/or high protein diets. However, many people don’t realize that there are some significant differences between these different ways of eating. Here, I’ll break it down: what’s the difference between high fat and high protein?
Fat and protein = important macronutrients
Both fat and protein are two of the three macronutrients (carbohydrates being the third). Macronutrients are the basic nutrients which provide energy to the body by way of calories. Put simply, macronutrients are vital to sustaining not just your energy during the fitness challenge, but to maintaining life.
The amount of energy each macronutrient provides is different. To break it down:
- Fat provides 9 calories per gram
- Protein provides 4 calories per gram
- Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram
Now that you have a basic understanding of the macronutrients, let’s dig into the distinctive differences between fat and protein.
While many fear the word “fat” it’s actually a necessary and good thing for your body. It provides many different functions.
First, fat is an energy reserve. According to the US National Library of Medicine, “The fats you eat give your body energy that it needs to work properly. During exercise, your body uses calories from carbohydrates you have eaten. But after 20 minutes, exercise then depends on calories from fat to keep you going.”
That’s not all that fat does, though. Many vitamins that you consume are fat soluble. This means that fat also helps your body absorb vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, E, and K.
Fat also provides two essential fatty acids: linoleic and linolenic acid. Without fat, your body cannot produce these acids, which help aid in brain development, inflammation control, and many other functions.
Examples of foods that are high in fats include animal-based fats (such as butter or lard), vegetable based fats (such as coconut oil and olive oil), avocados, some cheeses, and certain fatty cuts of meat.
While protein is also a macronutrient, the roles it plays in your body are different than fat. Amino acids (both essential and non-essential) come together to form proteins, which are vital for a number of different bodily functions. Not only do they build muscles, bones, nails, and hair, but they are also responsible for helping nutrients throughout the body.
In terms of reaching your fitness goals, protein is key. Basically, it goes like this: amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Proteins are the building blocks of muscle. To build muscle, you need protein.
It’s worth noting that of the 20 essential amino acids, our bodies are only able to make 11 of them without a little help. Nine of our essential amino acids must be consumed via the food we eat. As such, a moderate amount of protein is vital in the diet. Moreover, low protein consumption can lead to decreased muscle growth and repair, and a much weaker immune system.
Examples of foods which are high in protein include lean meats, dairy products (regardless of fat content), certain legumes, fish, nuts, and eggs.
Difference of High fat and protein diet
Many people get confused about high fat versus high protein. Perhaps this is because there are many foods which contain both fat and protein, such as eggs.
However, someone who is following a high fat diet (such as the ketogenic diet) will have a very different meal plan than someone who is on a high protein diet (such as the Atkins diet). For instance, someone on a high fat diet might be eating bacon, avocado, and eggs for breakfast, whereas the high protein dieter might be eating an egg white omelette with lean chicken breast and broccoli.
Similarities of High fat and protein diet
The most important thing these two approaches have in common is the limitation of carbohydrates, specifically high glycemic carbs. The quickest way to put on a bunch of body fat is by eating excess carbs, especially sugars and starches.
Any healthy and effective diet that’s high in fat and protein will limit high glycemic carbs but include lots of vegetables which are low glycemic and high in fiber.
Is there a winner?
Not necessarily. Both high fat or a high protein diets can be effective for weight loss, but which one might be more effective can vary from individual to individual. At the New You Challenge, we work with our clients to create a balanced meal plan that will work to complement the fitness challenge! Additionally, we offer additional ease with meal planning via our partner, RP Nutrition.
Have you ever followed a high fat and protein diet?