Ever scroll through social channels and health-related news articles and see common clickbait titles like “how to lose 10 lb. in 7 days” or “shed fat fast”? After reading them, is the advice extremely vague or the solutions aren’t sustainable lifestyle changes?

Well, what if there was just ONE thing you could change about your diet TODAY, that would immediately improve your health, and help “shed” fat without making ANY other changes to your daily routine?

Sound too good to be true…? Well it is NOT. It is a scientifically proven method.

The secret is protein.

Protein is a combination of various amino acids that make up all the structural tissues in the body. For health and fitness enthusiasts, protein is loved for its ability to build and maintain muscle. However, many people overlook the many other benefits it provides such as improving appetite control and shedding body fat. YES, various studies have shown that increased protein intakes not only benefit lean body mass but help decrease fat mass stores. How? Well protein has a very high thermogenic effect during digestion, meaning it takes a significant amount of calories to digest protein. Additionally, it is nearly impossible for protein to be converted to fat… it’s just not an easy metabolic fate for protein after it has been digested.

However, a recent study just showed why just increasing protein intake can be the SINGLE intervention you make to see SIGNIFICANT improvements in your health and body composition.

This study looked at the effects of a high protein (1.8g/kg) vs low protein (0.8-1g/kg) euenergetic diet (diet matched to maintain weight) on 47 normal weight obese women for 12 weeks with ZERO exercise intervention. Women were healthy, had to have a BMI greater than 18.5 but less than 25 kg/m^2) or body fat percentage of 30%, and between the ages of 30-60 years. After 12 weeks, the high protein diet group on average lost 2 lbs of body fat and gained 3 lbs of muscle! There were no significant changes seen in the low protein group.

Lost body fat, and gained muscle with ZERO additional exercise interventions. All these women did was increase their protein intake. That is a phenomenal result.

Takeaway? Increasing your protein intake can be the single intervention you can make to drastically improve your health by increasing your muscle mass, decreasing body fat, promoting immunity, and decreasing risk for injury.

How much protein should you aim to consume then?

Ideally, significant increases in muscle mass are not seen with intakes above 1.6g/kg body weight in most individuals. Therefore, a good baseline could be 1.6 up to 1.8g/kg per day based on the findings from the study above. What does that look like? Take an individual that weighs roughly 150 lb. Divide 150 by 2.2 to yield weight in kg and multiply that value by 1.6 and 1.8 (68.2 kg x 1.6 = 109 grams or 68.2kg x 1.8 = 122 grams).

Three servings of 30g of protein per day plus 2 snacks with roughly 10 grams of protein each would easily satisfy the daily protein requirement needed for someone weighing 150 lb.

So protein alone is the magic formula for actually shedding body fat and building muscle in an easy and healthy fashion.

Jackie Kaminski is the Founder of The Fight Nutritionist. Dietitian to elite level fighters and athletes with a masters in sports nutrition. For more check out The Fight Nutritionist on Muscle & Fitness+