Meet "Protein Pacing," the Eating Technique That Can Jump-Start Your Weight Loss


Free People

If getting in killer shape were a simple, straightforward endeavor, frankly, a lot more of us would be walking around with Emily Ratajkowski–esque abs. The truth of the matter is that when weight loss (and muscle gain) is your goal, there are a lot of factors to consider. Logging consistent workouts is important, of course, but science tells us that even exercise can't come close to our daily diet. And if you're hoping to burn fat and tone up as efficiently as possible, it's time to scrutinize your protein intake.

This is especially key if you're upping your workouts. "The top protein rule to remember is that the more active you are, the more protein you need," says nutritionist and protein expert Kim McDevitt, MPH, RD. But recent research suggests that it's not just about how much protein you're eating but when you're eating it too. And that's where something called "protein pacing" comes in.

It's a pretty straightforward concept—it just means that you're staggering your protein intake throughout the day in order to properly fuel your body. But the science shows that practicing this conscious decision—particularly when used with a few other fitness strategies—can result in optimal fat burn and fitness gains. In a recent study, researchers at Skidmore College monitored 50 physically fit men and women, and split them into two groups. Both groups followed the same exercise routine of resistance exercise, interval sprints, stretching, and endurance exercise, also known as the RISE method. But only one group adopted protein pacing into their routine, while the other did not.

The results were rather telling and speak to the huge impact that diet has over our physicality. Even though both groups were following the same intensive exercise routine, the protein-pacing group had more fitness gains, lost more belly fat, and had better lean body mass.