If you consume an excess of protein, i.e., more protein than you need to build muscle with, you can actually burn more fat (e.g., Forslund et al., 1999). You can also achieve that thick, ‘granite-hard’ look to your muscles that so many people find to be unattainable when using other eating approaches. By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly how to use protein as a fat-burning ‘torch’ and you’ll be well on your way to leaner, harder muscles.
This article was inspired by a question that I recently received: Rob, is it true that it doesn’t really matter what you eat, it’s the total calories? It is more than a case of calories in, calories out. If anything, it is a case of macronutrients in, macronutrients out.
Protein, carbohydrate and fat comprise the three macronutrients in your diet. How many calories you consume of each ultimately determines whether you are getting leaner or fatter at any given moment. (NOTE: If you really want to master the art of macronutrient balance, please read my article "Macronutrient Balance". I promise that it will change the way you look at eating, insofar as building muscle and losing fat are concerned, forever.)
A given amount of calories consumed as, for instance, 60% protein, 20% carbohydrate, and 20% fat a macronutrient profile not at all uncommon for me-can have a fundamentally different effect on body composition than the same number of calories consumed as, say, 30 percent protein, 60 percent carbohydrate, and 10 percent fat. In fact, I can practically guarantee that each of these macronutrient profiles will affect your body composition differently over the long term.
It has been my experience that an excess protein, lower-carbohydrate eating approach works exceptionally well in this regard, particularly in terms of its effects on apparent muscle hardness, or density.