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The #1 Food to Eat for Weight Loss, Says Woman Who Dropped 50 Pounds

Eat this to get skinny, says one weight loss success story. 
FACT CHECKED BY Christopher Roback

Gen Coco, Certified Nutrition Consultant (CNC), is a weight loss coach and influencer with hundreds of thousands of followers on TikTok. Her videos focus on demystifying diet culture and offering easy and simply ways for people to lose weight and get in shape. In one of her viral videos, Gen, who dropped 50 pounds herself and has helped hundreds of women do the same, reveals the number one thing to eat for weight loss. We also asked The Diet Diva, Tara Collingwood, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD/N, ACSM-CPT, a Board Certified Sports Dietitian, to weigh in on her tactics. 


Motivation Is Key

@gensgym Why you need to eat protein during your weight loss journey! Let me know what if this was helpful ❤️ #weightloss #weightlossjourney #protein #diethacks #howtoseweight #fyp ♬ original sound – Gen Coco, CNC | Weight Loss

In the video she explains that one of the things she "struggled with" during her diet and weight loss journey "was not just knowing what to do, but it was really understanding why it was important and really understanding the why," she said, calling that "one of the biggest things" that allowed her to "lose the 50 pounds and keep it off over the last seven years after almost the decade of yo-yo dieting, losing weight, and gaining it all back." Collingwood maintains that she counsels her clients all the time on the motivation behind weight loss. "Losing weight and keeping it off is one of the most difficult behavior changes to make in life. If you don't have a strong reason pulling you to make the hard changes, it is not likely to stick," she says. "I spend a lot of time asking about why they want to make changes and digging deeper into the reasons to really get at the root of the motivation."

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Protein Has the Highest Satiation of Any Macronutrient


"You probably know that you need to be eating a lot more protein, but do you actually know why it's important?" she says in the video. "First thing you need to know about protein is that it has the highest satiation of any macronutrient, meaning it's the one food that makes you feel the fullest the longest for the least amount of calories." Why is this important? "Because it means that you feel fuller longer. You're able to eat less calories throughout the day and therefore be in a greater caloric deficit without feeling hungry," she adds. "One of the biggest things when it comes to sustainable weight loss is that you have to figure out a way to be in a deficit while still feeling satiated and full, because that starving sensation will eventually lead to binging."


"Protein is the Most Filling"


"Protein indeed is the most filling," says Collinwood. "I agree with eating a good amount of protein when you are trying to lose weight, but that also doesn't mean you completely cut out carbs. Cutting back on carbs, increasing protein, and including healthy fats is a good balanced approach."


Protein Has the Highest Thermic Effect of Food


The "coolest" perk of protein, according to Gen? "Everything that you do burns calories," she says, "sitting burns calories, breathing burns calories, thinking burns calories, and digesting your food burns calories too. Now, protein has what's called the highest thermic effect of food, which is simply how many calories your body burns by digesting your food." Protein has the highest thermic effective food of 25 percent, she maintains. "This means that for every 1000 calories of protein that you are eating, your body has to burn 250 calories just to digest it." Here's where it gets interesting: "Carbs only have about a 7 percent thermic effective food and fats, literally 2 percent, which means you are burning anywhere from four to 12 times as many calories simply by eating protein over your fats and carbs, which is literally the caloric equivalent of 30 extra minutes of cardio per day that you don't even have to do, " she continues. "That being said, it's still incredibly important to eat your carbs and your fats because carbs help with energy stores and fats help with keeping balanced hormones and vitamin processing."

Related: 8 Game-Changing Daily Habits for a Better Body


RDN Says


Collingwood agrees that protein has the highest thermic effect of food, "meaning you burn the most calories just digesting protein," she explains. 


Protein Helps You Build Lean Muscle Mass


The last reason why protein is important is because it helps you build lean muscle mass, says Gen. "If you're going to take the time out of your day to be working out 3, 4, 5 times a week, you need to make sure that you're eating your protein so you can actually build that muscle, which is maybe even why there have been seasons of your life where you're going to the gym a ton, but you feel like you don't look like someone who goes to the gym," she points out. 

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RDN Says


Collingwood agrees that exercise should be part of any weight loss plan and encourages a balance of resistance training and cardio. "When you lose weight, some of the weight is always going to be a bit of muscle. But you can minimize the amount of muscle by doing exercise," she says. "Aerobic exercise burns more calories and increases metabolism, while resistance training builds/maintains muscle while also increasing your resting metabolic rate. The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you burn at rest and doing every single activity of the day."

💪🔥Body Booster: Protein has the highest thermic effect of any food. This means that you are burning (the most) calories just by digesting it. 

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more