Do you know the benefits of Protein in your diet? Most people eat enough protein to prevent deficiency, but some individuals would do better with a much higher protein intake.
Numerous studies suggest that a high-protein diet has major benefits for weight loss and metabolic health
Even though they may be labeled as “meat-heads,” Bodybuilders know a little more than we actually give them credit for. When it comes to protein and the benefits for the body, these “gym-rats” are two steps ahead of the game! Protein is important for muscle growth, we know this, and science provides the evidence for this. The problem is, people only associate protein with muscle growth and nothing more.
Some believe that if they don’t weight train or play a sport, then there is no point in making sure they are receiving adequate protein levels. In this article I am going to touch base on why and how protein is vitally important for the human body, no matter what your lifestyle is.
What are the benefits of protein foods in a healthy eating pattern?
They are an important part of your body and diet and play an important role in your bodily functions. Proteins offer a lot of health benefits to your body. Here are reasons why you should eat more protein.
While changes in vision, balance and reflexes can increase your odds of experiencing a fall, you might be able to reduce the risk of falling by harnessing the benefits of protein. Health experts are now finding that consuming adequate protein might help protect older adults from recurring falls, fragility and other effects of aging.
Protein is an important macronutrient that plays a major role in the entire body. It makes hormones and enzymes, while also helping keep your muscles, bones, blood, and hair and nails healthy.
Protein helps build, repair and maintain tissues, as well as boost the immune system, increase fat burning and lower the risk for diabetes.
Consuming whey protein is an easy way to add 25-50 grams of protein on top of your daily intake. It is commonly used by bodybuilders or people lacking protein in their diet.
Some animal proteins are also high in calories due to fat content. Choose lean cuts, trim excess fat, and avoid deep-fat frying to ensure you reap the benefits of protein-rich foods without the extra calories.
What is Protein?
Protein, along with fats and sugars, is one of the three major nutrition groups we need to grow, repair and replace cells in our bodies. Protein is an important part of every cell in our bodies and different types of protein play different roles. For example:
Proteins support our immune system by forming antibodies that help fight infection
Transport proteins carry nutrients like vitamins, blood sugar and oxygen throughout our bodies
Proteins supply our bodies with energy
Our bodies need protein to grow new cells that can make new tissue
Having enough protein in our system keeps us functioning properly. Not consuming enough may lead to other issues in our bodies, including: loss of muscle mass and weakened heart and lung function.
Essential Nutrients in Protein Foods
The protein in meat, beans and nuts functions as a building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. Protein is also the building block for enzymes and hormones.
Other important nutrients that can be found in protein include:
- B vitamins. The B Vitamins include niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, B6 and B12. These vitamins serve a variety of functions in the body. They help the body release energy and build tissue. Vitamin B12 is needed for healthy blood and can only be found in animal products.
- Essential fatty acids. Humans must ingest alpha-linolenic acids (omega-3) and linoleic acids (omega-6) because the body needs but cannot synthesize them on its own. Omega-3 fatty acids are often deficient in the diet, but can be found in nuts, seeds and seafood.
- Zinc and iron. Zinc supports immune function, while iron carries oxygen to the blood.
- Vitamin E. Found in nuts and seeds, vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, enhances the immune system and prevents clots from forming in the heart’s arteries.
- Fiber. Beans contain dietary fiber that promotes bowel regularity and a feeling of fullness.
What Are the Benefits of Protein?
From infancy through advanced age, protein provides our bodies with the building blocks it needs to build and repair cells, tissues, bones and muscles. Protein also helps our bodies make antibodies to help fight infection. As we age, protein has another important job: preventing muscle loss.
Starting around age 40, the body naturally starts to lose muscle, losing as much as 8% of its muscle mass each decade. Over the years, this rate of muscle decline progressively accelerates, and it might even double in some people after age 70. Getting enough protein from a balanced diet is one way to combat muscle wasting.
Reduces Appetite and Hunger Levels
The three macronutrients — fats, carbs, and protein — affect your body in different ways.
Studies show that protein is by far the most filling. It helps you feel more full — with less food (3Trusted Source).
This is partly because protein reduces your level of the hunger hormone ghrelin. It also boosts the levels of peptide YY, a hormone that makes you feel full (4Trusted Source, 5, 6Trusted Source).
These effects on appetite can be powerful. In one study, increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% of calories made overweight women eat 441 fewer calories each day without intentionally restricting anything (7Trusted Source).
If you need to lose weight or belly fat, consider replacing some of your carbs and fats with protein. It can be as simple as making your potato or rice serving smaller while adding a few extra bites of meat or fish.
Protein is directly involved in healing from an injury. Those who have recently encountered an injury should take advantage of this fact and increase their overall protein intake to help with the recovery process. Protein aids the body in repairing damaged tissues. So the lack of protein will call for a slower, less efficient healing rate within your body. The reason why, is because when your body lacks enough protein, it has a difficult time forming collagen (collagen synthesis is what helps heal wounds and repair tissues).
The amino acid, GLUTAMINE, which is acquired via protein intake, is what stimulates this collagen synthesis. So without enough protein you will lack enough glutamine to initiate proper collagen synthesis thus leading to ineffective wound healing.
Protein Boosts Metabolism
Along with reducing appetite, eating protein temporarily boosts metabolism. The body uses energy to digest and make use of the nutrients in food. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF), and protein’s thermic effect is much higher than at of carbohydrates and fat.
Whether you’re an elite athlete working towards an ideal body composition or just someone trying to lose a little belly fat, consider replacing some of your carbs and fats with protein in your daily meals and snacks.
Good for Building Muscle
Proteins serve as an essential building block for your muscles as they are mostly made out of proteins. Having the right amount of protein can help build muscle growth, maintain muscle mass, or prevent too much muscle loss when losing weight. This is why eating lean meat is considered an essential part of a diet if you want to gain muscle mass.
There are also other ways to gain protein. Testosterone cypionate for sale online is the easiest way to have it. It offers nitrogen retaining properties that play a role in drawing protein into the muscles that help them repair and build themselves quicker and more effectively.
Increases Fat Burning
You can increase your metabolism for at least a short amount of time, by eating. This is down to the fact your body needs to use calories as energy to digest foods and use the nutrients they provide. This is known as the TEF or Thermic Effect of Food. Crucially, though, not all foods work as well at this. Protein, for instance, has a much higher TEF than carbs or fat. So, when you include the right protein in your diet, you can increase your metabolism and the number of calories you burn.
Good for Your Bones
An ongoing myth perpetuates the idea that protein — mainly animal protein — is bad for your bones.
This is based on the idea that protein increases acid load in the body, leading to calcium leaching from your bones in order to neutralize the acid.
However, most long-term studies indicate that protein, including animal protein, has major benefits for bone health (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
People who eat more protein tend to maintain bone mass better as they age and have a much lower risk of osteoporosis and fractures (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
This is especially important for women, who are at high risk of osteoporosis after menopause. Eating plenty of protein and staying active is a good way to help prevent that from happening.
Optimal Immune Function
Your immune system is made up of proteins, and relies on more proteins to be made (protein synthesis) in order to function efficiently. In layman terms, if you are lacking protein in your diet, this will weaken your immune system. Proteins make up the immunoglobulins, or antibodies, of your immune system and are also part of the interferon that support immune system cells and attack viruses, bacteria or other foreign substances in the body. Why is this important?
Well, for every antigen which attacks your body, you have a distinct and separate antibody to fight against it. The antibodies basically “capture” these antigens to allow the other immune system cells to destroy them. The antibodies are able to recognize viruses and bacteria which will allow your immune system to respond faster, and rid the body of the foreign material before any true damage is done. Now, without enough protein, the body’s ability to produce antibodies will be hindered.
Not getting enough protein can also cause unfavorable effects on your T-cell system. This T-cell system has 2 major players, the killer T-cells that destroy cells that are infected with germs or cancerous, and the helper T-cells that “help” arrange the immune response. So if our T-cell system isn’t working properly, then this will result in more frequent infections within the body.
As a side note, since we are on the immune functions, the individual amino acid “Arginine” has been shown to be necessary in situations where the immune system is compromised by improving your ability to fight off infection. In order to get more arginine, you should eat more protein!
Protein Aids with Muscle Recovery and Growth
Not only does eating protein help prevent muscle breakdown, but it can also help build and strengthen muscles. Combining regular activity and exercise with high protein intake promotes muscle growth and strengthening.
High-quality proteins contain all of the essential amino acids and are rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). Leucine, one of these BCAAs, plays a major role in promoting muscle growth and recovery after resistance and endurance exercise. These high-quality proteins exist in animal-based protein foods such as lean poultry, beef, fish, dairy, egg products, and whole eggs.
High-quality plant-based options include soybeans and tofu. Protein powder supplements are also commonly used by athletes, especially post-exercise when real food sources of protein tend to be less accessible.
Protein shakes are extremely convenient, making them useful for active individuals and athletes who are constantly on-the-go. If choosing a protein powder supplement, whey protein and plant-based proteins such as soy or pea have been shown to most effectively promote muscle growth and recovery.
It Gives You Essential Amino Acids
When consumed, proteins release essential amino acids. These acids are not produced by your body and need to be obtained from food. Your body breaks down the protein into amino acids that serve a variety of important functions. These include transporting molecules throughout the body, stimulating muscle growth, and increasing your metabolism.
Essential amino acids also help you in vitamin absorption, energy production, and protection against viruses and bacteria. Having a proper amount of essential amino acids is important for your body’s growth and function because an essential amino acid deficiency can lead to serious consequences.
Reduces Cravings and Desire for Late-Night Snacking
A food craving is different from normal hunger.
It is not just about your body needing energy or nutrients but your brain needing a reward (18).
Yet, cravings can be incredibly hard to control. The best way to overcome them may be to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
One of the best prevention methods is to increase your protein intake.
One study in overweight men showed that increasing protein to 25% of calories reduced cravings by 60% and the desire to snack at night by half (19Trusted Source).
Likewise, a study in overweight adolescent girls found that eating a high-protein breakfast reduced cravings and late-night snacking.
This may be mediated by an improvement in the function of dopamine, one of the main brain hormones involved in cravings and addiction (20Trusted Source).
Hormones are chemicals produced by glands used as signalling molecules to help communicate and coordinate activities throughout the body. They also help in controlling the numerous functions of body which involve a variety of your organs. Protein plays an important role in building certain hormones – peptide or protein hormones. These protein hormones are hormones that bind to receptors on the outside of cells, and trigger a response inside the cell. Hormonal proteins, like insulin, help with the metabolism of glucose and are highly effective in controlling blood sugar concentrations.
Hormones can also activate muscle growth by increasing protein synthesis or decreasing protein breakdown. So, if deficient in protein, your body lacks the materials it needs to build and support the hormones within your body.
Enzymes are proteins that are used as catalysts to speed up, or reduce the energy of activation of chemical reactions within our body. In order to function properly, enzymes help with thousands of biochemical reactions performed by our bodies. They play a role in actions like muscle contractions, nerve impulse transmissions, the breaking down of molecules, etc. Just to shed some light on how important enzymes are, the enzyme ATPase is needed for breaking down adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, which releases energy.
ATP is our chemical energy that all of our cells in our body uses! Also, lipase, for example, is an enzyme that helps you to digest dietary fat. Lactase is a well-known enzyme which will catalyse the milk sugar or lactose metabolism in your intestine to help digestion. Without enzymes, the reactions in our body would occur too slowly to keep us alive!
Helps In Weight Management
Proteins play an important part when it comes to weight loss and management. Consuming protein has a positive impact on your metabolism as it breaks down food quicker, burns fat quicker, and uses the nutrients from the food. Foods that are high in protein make you feel full for a longer period of time, so the right amount may not make you binge eat or consume more food.
Consider consuming more protein during lunch and dinner to help you avoid those often-unhealthy late-night snacks. A high protein-based diet can also greatly benefit athletes looking to maintain their bodies in a certain way.
Helps Relieve Muscle Soreness
While you are working out your body naturally directs energy and amino acids to support muscle contractions and not protein synthesis. After a workout, the muscles go through a recovery phase. “The recovery phase is when the muscles are repaired. Energy and amino acids are used in protein synthesis, which helps to repair the muscles. The muscle tears that occur during the workout require protein for restoration,” accentral explains.
Try drinking a protein shake or adding nuts to your diet. Tip: Soothe sore muscles and joints with HYPERSOOTHE; a lightweight topical cream infused with essential oils and natural plant extracts. It is formulated to meet the standards of the world’s best athletes.
Lowers Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major cause of heart attacks, strokes, and chronic kidney disease.
Interestingly, higher protein intake has been shown to lower blood pressure.
In a review of 40 controlled trials, increased protein lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number of a reading) by 1.76 mm Hg on average and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of a reading) by 1.15 mm Hg (26Trusted Source).
One study found that, in addition to lowering blood pressure, a high-protein diet also reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides (27).
Lowers Risk for Diabetes
Eat healthy sources of protein such as nuts, fish and beans, and make sure you skip the processed meat. Research shows that a diet rich in mono and polyunsaturated fats may help lower your risk for diabetes and heart disease.
Does Not Harm Healthy Kidneys
Many people wrongly believe that a high protein intake harms your kidneys.
It is true that restricting protein intake can benefit people with pre-existing kidney disease. This should not be taken lightly, as kidney problems can be very serious (32Trusted Source).
However, while high protein intake may harm individuals with kidney problems, it has no relevance to people with healthy kidneys.
In fact, numerous studies underscore that high-protein diets have no harmful effects on people without kidney disease