Protein is the new BUZZ word in modern day nutrition, where most successful diet plans or weight loss strategies involve increasing your protein intake or making protein a priority above other food groups. But why is this?
Firstly what is protein?
Proteins are present in every part of the body and form the building blocks for all living cells from your hair to your muscles. Without protein, the body would not function at all – everything from hormone function to nutrient transport involves proteins.
From a nutritional perspective, protein is one of the major macro-nutrients of a healthy diet. It is typically found in meat, fish, cheese, eggs and pulses. Eating protein will help with muscle repair after those tough training sessions and will reduce your recovery time therefore allowing you to train more frequently and harder.
What are the benefits of protein?
Eating sufficient amounts of protein can help improve muscle repair and recovery after an intense training session, which in turn will lead to an increase in lean muscle mass.
Why is this important?
Regardless of your goal, having high levels of lean muscle mass should be a priority. Increasing lean muscle mass will provide a leaner, slimmer body, stronger muscles and joints and most importantly an increased metabolism.
Increased metabolism: Your body is more efficient at burning calories! Think of it like this – a Ferrari will burn fuel a lot quicker than a Nissan Micra! Not only that but having more lean muscle will mean that you will burn more calories even when you’re not exercising.
One more added benefit of eating a high protein diet is that they’re a lot more substantial than a regular diet. Foods like meat, fish and eggs can feel very filling and satisfying meaning that the risk of overeating or picking at food throughout the day is drastically reduced.
Eating protein will make me bulky
Fear not, protein actually has the same amount of calories per gram as carbohydrates so you will not be packing on the pounds by eating a high protein diet. However, if you have experienced some weight gain as a result of switching to a high protein diet then my advice is to dial down your portion sizes as you’re probably consuming too many calories.
Eating too much protein can damage your health
It has been rumoured that a high protein diet can lead to health problems such as kidney damage. This has never actually been proven, however, I will add that eating too much of anything can cause potential health problems but protein is no more hazardous.
Am I eating enough protein?
How much protein you should be consuming purely depends on your goals, level of activity or your lifestyle. It has been widely stated that a highly active individual or a competitive athlete should be consuming between 1.3 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilo of bodyweight every day depending on training intensity. However, for some, that quantity of protein is not realistic or feasible so for those people, I recommended implementing one portion of protein in every meal/snack.
If you are trying to get into shape then I highly recommend a high protein diet. Your metabolism will improve as well as your ability to recover between training sessions. If you are also one of those people who never seems to be full after a meal then increasing your protein intake will leave you feeling satisfied for longer after a meal, especially if you’ve got a good portion of vegetables with it.
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