When it comes to macronutrients, protein is paramount to muscle mass and controlling cravings and calorie intake. While there are plenty of reasons to focus on getting the recommended amounts of protein in your diet, some evidence suggests a protein-heavy diet is even more beneficial, especially when it comes to weight loss or increasing strength and athleticism. However, before making any changes to your diet, it is necessary to learn more about this particular macronutrient and your specific dietary needs.
Why Protein Is so Important
While there are many reasons protein is essential to the individual diet, the primary reason is its fundamental importance to human biology. The human body does not contain a single cell absent of protein; it is in every cell. The chain of amino acids is evident in every part of the human body, and it plays a vital role in cellular repair. Additionally, protein is crucial throughout childhood development and plays significant roles during pregnancy and other bodily processes.
Beyond the standard necessity of the macronutrient, protein also helps to build and restore tissue, specifically muscle tissues. Therefore, if you are athletic or attempting to create a leaner physique, a protein-heavy diet is key.
How To Incorporate More Protein in Your Diet
When people lack protein in their diet, they tend to overindulge in carbohydrates, specifically processed carbs. Unfortunately, carbohydrates can lead to increased weight with minimal muscle mass. Studies have consistently shown that high-protein diets reduce cravings, minimize calorie intake, and boost metabolism, meaning consuming a high-protein diet results in rapid weight loss and muscle gains.
While it is unnecessary to cut out all carbohydrates, and it is ill-advised to do so, limiting your carb intake to complex and healthy carbs in combination with protein-rich foods is an excellent way to improve your diet. When looking for healthy proteins, look for leaner meats, like poultry and fish. There is nothing wrong with red meat, but limit your intake to only a few meals per week.
Additionally, while deli meat is convenient, you might want to avoid it because it tends to be high in sodium content. Lean and fresh protein is healthier and, in most instances, tastes better, too.
Protein and Weight Loss
The primary reason protein improves weight loss is hormonal. When you replace carbs and fats with protein, satiety hormones increase, and hunger hormones decrease. This means you feel less hungry in between meals, which results in fewer consumed calories per day, resulting in weight loss.
Protein and Muscle Gain
Protein is made of a chain of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of muscle tissue. These building blocks not only help build muscle but also contribute to the maintenance and repair of the tissue. However, protein does not work alone. Your body also requires carbs and other nutrients to function properly and develop.
Protein Is a Superior Macronutrient, but It Does Not Work Alone
Protein is not a solution for sedentary weight loss or health. The macronutrient can help with weight loss and muscle gain, but as with any nutrient, it works in tandem with other nutrients and physical activities.
The key to health is not a secret. Diet and exercise are the keys to creating a healthy and balanced body. Consuming more protein can help, but before you make any dietary changes, talk to your doctor or a nutritionist, someone familiar with your medical history.
Do you have any pointers for some starting a protein-rich diet?