In keeping with our protein theme, today I want to go into more detail the benefits of eating protein. While proteins have several jobs to do including improving immunity and hormone regulation, the primary role of protein is to build, strengthen and repair muscle tissue.
So what exactly is protein?
Proteins are simply large molecules within the cells that are necessary in our everyday bodily functions. Our bodies cells, tissues and organs cannot survive without adequate amounts of protein. Each protein are made up of smaller molecules called amino acids….so you could say the building blocks of proteins are amino acids. This is why after each workout I take an extra supplement containing amino acids to help build, strengthen and repair my muscles!
Now, what does eating more protein have to do with weight loss? Oh my friends, everything! Here are three reasons why protein is good for weight loss:
- Protein helps you feel fuller and more satisfied, longer. Why? By slowing down digestion and simply staying with you longer than a quick digesting sugary donut.
- Protein helps to keep your blood sugar more balanced. Because protein takes longer to digest, it will block those quick spikes in blood sugar, therefore preventing the quick spikes in insulin release. This prevents the dreaded fat storage from happening along with the usual energy slump that happens after eating a high sugary meal. Remember what I’ve said before about adding a protein and fiber to every meal, makes losing weight no big deal.
- Protein feeds the muscle which increases lean muscle mass, increases metabolism and increases fat burn. Protein also requires more energy to digest therefore increasing your calorie burn at rest, too. Did you know that lean muscle at rest will burn 10 times the amount that fat tissue burns while working!
What are the symptoms of not eating enough protein?
- low metabolism resulting in difficulty losing weight
- low energy and increased fatigue
- lack of mental clarity and mood swings
- extreme hair loss
- low immunity
How much protein should I be eating every day?
The average protein consumption for a sedentary person is about 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight and up to 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight for the active person.
For example, I weigh around 145 pounds so therefore my minimum amount of protein each day should be 116 grams (145 x 0.8 = 116). BUT because I’m as active as I am, workout and run several times a week and I’m trying to build even more muscle tone (and burn more fat), I can go up to 145 grams of protein each day.
Think about that for a minute! Now consider how much protein you’re eating everyday and see if it adds up! Crazy, right?
What foods contain protein? A few of my favorites are:
- eggs and egg whites
- lean cuts of beef (not all beef is bad, ya’ll!)
- chicken, turkey
- lean pork (again, not all pork is bad)
- dairy (watch the fat content)
- cottage cheese (I know it’s dairy but it also contains a slower absorbing protein call casein that supplies your muscle with those amino acids)
- yogurt (preferably Greek yogurt containing about twice the protein and half the sugar as the regular ones)
- fish and other seafoods
- dried lentils
- nut butters (watch for too much fat and flavored ones have more sugar)
- a variety of nuts and seeds
- added protein powders such as my favorite, the TLS On the Go Nutrition Shake
What’s the best way to keep track of your protein consumption? Keeping track of course! Write it down! I challenge you to write down everything you eat, literally everything that goes into your mouth, for one week and see what you’re results are. It’s pretty eye-opening on little changes you could make that will add up to big results!