Three reasons to be mindful of your protein intake
How important is protein? Aside, from it being a major macro-nutrient in our daily diets, why is it a big deal to make sure you are consuming enough?
First, let’s define protein.
Protein is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in building and maintaining the body’s tissues and structures. It is made up of amino acids that are necessary for the growth and repair of muscles, bones, and other tissues like skin and hair. In addition to being our body’s primary building block, protein can have an impact on hormones within the body, including insulin, estrogen, and testosterone, just to name a few.
While protein plays roles in just about every function throughout our bodies, here are details on three main reasons to make sure you are consuming enough protein daily.
Thermogenesis by way of digestion. Thermogenesis is really just a fancy word for heat production within the body either through movement or digestion.
When we consume protein, our body requires more energy to digest it than it does for carbohydrates or fats. This means that consuming protein can help increase this process, which can lead to a higher metabolic rate and increased calorie burning. YAY!
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a high-protein diet increased thermogenesis by up to 100 calories per day compared to a moderate-protein diet.
Additionally, consuming protein (especially first thing in the morning) can help reduce hunger and increase feelings of fullness throughout the day.
Protein makes us strong, literally. It is essential for building and maintaining the body’s tissues and structures. It is especially important for the growth and repair of muscles as we age but also for those who workout regularly, especially regarding weight training.
Unlike carbohydrates and fats, amino acids from protein are not considered a primary source of energy. This is because there is no place for protein to be stored in the body. And if there is not enough protein consumed the only other way to supply the body with the amino acids sourced from protein is by breaking down non-fat bodily tissue (muscle, bones, etc).
Yes, you read that right. Your body will literally break down itself to ensure that the most vital functions in your body are provided to keep you alive. So, if you don’t want your body to “borrow from Peter to pay Paul ” consuming enough protein is a must.
Protein effects your hormones. Protein can have a big impact on hormones within the body, including insulin, estrogen, and testosterone. Insulin is necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, and consuming protein can help regulate insulin levels. Estrogen and testosterone are hormones that if operating high or low can have major symptoms and physical effects. Consuming protein can help regulate these hormones.
Now, with all that said, like anything the key is moderation and consuming the right amount based on age, weight (lean body mass), sex, physical activity, disease or illness. If you are not sure what you should be eating based on your goals, I am always available to help.
To keep it simple, focusing your meals around a lean, quality sourced protein is the secret to hitting an optimal amount of protein daily.
Here is an example day of protein sources at each meal. Amounts will vary based on individual needs, and of course, there are many forms of protein sources. So, be open to trying new sources and incorporating both meat and plant based proteins within your diet.
Meal 1: 2 eggs + 2 egg whites + 1 cup spinach, onions, peppers, grape tomatoes, 1 cup of oat meal + 2 tsp of coconut sugar and cinnamon
Meal 2: Greek yogurt + granola/seeds/nuts + berries
Meal 3: 96/4 Lean ground grass fed beef/Tofu (taco seasoning)+ Rice/lentils and black beans + avocado + Vegetables + 4 TBS salsa =taco bowl
Meal 4: (pre workout): ½ Sweet potato
Meal 5: (post workout): Full amino Protein powder (whey or plant) + choice of milk/water
Meal 6: Wild caught salmon + Vegetables + Baked potato topped with Greek yogurt and Beef Tallow or Grass Fed Organic Butter
If you’ve read this far and still need help calculating your nutrition needs, I am available to help!