Sure – protein can boost your workouts and help you grow your crazy muscles. It allows you to increase or strengthen your body size simply, by converting your body from a cramping state (or muscle exhaustion) to an anabolic state (muscle regeneration) after exercising. But a protein-rich diet isn’t limited to bodybuilders or fitness addicts. We can all benefit from eating more protein.
For starters, protein is an essential component of any diet. Since the body does not store excess protein, it has no stock to utilize it when needed, so it is important to eat it on a consistent basis. Protein is essential for the basic function of every cell in your body, and it is essential for life itself. But aside from, you know, being KEPT ALIVE, what benefits can you get from consuming protein, and in particular, a high protein diet?
1. Weight loss (from fewer calories consumed in general).
Protein helps you feel full for longer, which means that you will likely consume fewer calories as a result of not feeling hungry soon after eating. In one study (1), overweight women unwittingly consumed 441 fewer calories per day, by increasing their protein intake from 15 to 30%.
Also, following a high-protein diet versus a regular protein diet has also been shown to significantly reduce obsessive thoughts of food and late-night snacks in overweight men (2). Therefore, a protein-rich diet can be a ticket for those who struggle with cravings, overeating, or food addictions. Not only can a protein-rich diet help you lose weight, but it can also help prevent you from gaining weight in the first place.
2. Weight loss (from expelling more calories in general).
Additionally, protein has a positive effect on your metabolism, which helps your body shed calories faster (3). This is because protein has a higher thermogenic effect (the calories required to digest food and harvest nutrients) than fat or carbohydrates.
All this means that a high-protein diet contributes to reducing calories and increasing calories. And if you are on a high protein diet, this means that you are eating a higher amount of protein compared to carbohydrates and fats. So unlike a high-carb diet, for example, you consume fewer sugars and starches that can lead to weight gain (4).
3. More sustainable energy.
Protein takes longer to break down in the body than carbohydrates. When you consume carbohydrates, you are essentially experiencing high blood sugar levels. You might experience an energy boost then a crash (sugar rush, anyone?)
Not so with protein. The energy you get from protein will last longer because your insulin levels will remain stable when you eat protein, ensuring that glucose is released into the body more slowly from the bloodstream. Unlike carbohydrates, proteins do not spike blood sugar levels, which means you won’t suffer from a rollercoaster crash and burn.
If you want steady, sustainable energy throughout the day, start by eating a high-protein breakfast and incorporating protein into every meal and snack throughout the day as well.
4. Better complexion.
Protein is an essential building block of skin. As such, it is essential for those youthful, glowing skin that most of us desire. One of the visible signs of a protein deficiency is thin and tired skin (cellulite, scaly skin, red skin, swollen skin, etc.) (5).
So if you want plump and radiant skin, eating protein – especially proteins like salmon that have other skin benefits – is a great idea.
5. Better hair.
Protein is essential for all parts of the body, and it’s great for the skin, but it’s better for hair and nails – did you know it’s mostly made up of protein? Hair loss and dull hair are possible signs that you are not getting enough protein in your diet.
6. Better nails.
Brittle nails that always break, or nails that don’t grow very quickly, are another sign that you may not get enough protein in your diet. I realized that cutting dairy from my diet after I had been eating Greek yogurt regularly every day was causing my nails to suffer – it might feel the difference in how weak they are. Soon after I returned to a high-protein diet, my nails had recovered.
7. The best exercises.
Having stronger muscles also helps you with other aspects of exercise, such as cardio. The stronger you are, for example, the faster and longer you can run, which is another reason because protein is good for losing weight and getting in shape.
8. Better sleep.
This might sound counterintuitive since protein can give you a clean and brilliant energy boost. But one study (6) from 2016, which tracked overweight people on either a normal protein diet or a high protein diet. The higher the protein intake, the greater the improvement in GSS (global sleep score), both in the short term and over time.
9. Stronger bones.
A high-protein diet can improve bone health by, for example, improving calcium retention and absorption in the bones (7). He said enough!
10. Strong tendons.
Since protein makes up the majority of the tendons and ligaments in your body, it is important to feed yourself plenty of protein that you can use toward these body parts.
The man extends his legs after the exercise
11. A better mood.
Does anyone else have a mother or tell him that he needs to eat some protein whenever he cries? just me? OK. But there appears to be a link between protein intake and feelings of emotional well-being. This could be because one of the amino acids in whey protein is tryptophan, which boosts your mood and can help relieve symptoms of depression.
12. Faster recovery from injuries and illness.
Consuming lots of protein after an injury helps the body replenish the nutrients needed for tissue and organ growth. So the injury recovery time may be much shorter, which brings you back to the gym and your life faster.
Low-protein diets also show a decreased immune response from the body, as well as an increase in the severity of the infection (8). So when you get sick, you must make sure you are getting enough protein from your food so that your body can recover properly.
13. Anti-aging benefits.
Protein and anti-aging benefits
As you get older, you lose muscle. A high-protein diet can help older adults maintain some of these muscles. It also helps them reduce the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures (9).
These benefits can also help people as they continue to exercise at an older age, which can have all kinds of health benefits.
14. Better focus.
Headache and fatigue can really mess up your focus. But this is what you might get from sugar crashes from a high-carb diet. Instead, eating more protein can prevent you from experiencing a midday crash, and thus can make you focus on the task at hand, without all the symptoms of a meltdown.
OK. So how much protein should you be eating?
Now that we have discovered the benefits you can get from a high protein diet, let’s define what is considered high protein in the first place. As far as the recommended daily values go (the percentages you find on the back of nutrition labels), you should get around 40-50 grams of protein per day. Depending on your body size and weight, a high-protein diet will be at the higher end of this.
Nutritionists often recommend eating half a gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. Therefore, a 150-pound person should consume about 75 grams of protein per day.
Plus, if you exercise more intensely and do a lot of strength training, you will need more protein. But it may not be as much about the amount of protein you consume as it is about the proportion of your daily diet. A high-protein diet may mean that more than 30% of your diet consists of protein, versus other macronutrients, carbohydrates and fats.
We are not all experts at calculating macros. So what are some easy ways to increase your daily protein percentage?
When you look at your plate, choose protein first rather than eating bread or other aspects. This will ensure that you are really full of protein before consuming more carbs and fats.
For breakfast, if you eat toast or cereal, you might try smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, or an omelette. Snack on some nuts, cheese, or protein bars when you are hungry all day. And for dessert, try swaps that contain more protein and sugar, like yogurt and Greek frozen fruit instead of rich sorbet.