The phrase “you are what you eat” is never truer than in the case of protein. One of the three macronutrients essential for a healthy diet (the other two are carbohydrates and fat), protein is used in almost every function in your body.
Protein provides the building blocks of tissues and organs and is required for the synthesis and maintenance of muscles, enzymes, hormones, antibodies, bones, cartilage, hair and skin. So, all in all, it’s pretty important to being maintaining optimum health!
But eating protein isn’t just essential to how your body functions - it has some added benefits which could help you tackle those resolutions to get healthy.
Benefits of eating protein
“Fuller for longer” isn’t just a catchy marketing phrase. Eating protein triggers an increase in what's known as the 'full-up' hormone, so after a meal containing protein, you’ll feel more satisfied. This reduces hunger and appetite and means you should consume fewer calories in a day.
In one study, overweight women who increased their protein intake from 15 to 30% of calories, on average ate 441 fewer calories a day without making any restrictions.
Improves muscle mass and strength
Protein is an essential building block for the synthesis and maintenance of muscles. So after exercise, particularly high-intensity exercise, your body needs good quality protein to help you muscles recover and repair. This ensures your body is ready for the next workout.
Sadly, when losing weight your body will lose muscle mass as well as fat. This is frustrating because lean muscle burns more calories than fat, even when not being used. Eating sufficient protein in your diet encourages your body to burn fat and preserves calorie-burning lean muscle.
Eating, in general, boosts your metabolism because your body uses energy to digest food. But not all foods are created equal. Your body uses more energy to digest protein. This has the effect of boost your metabolism and increasing the calories you burn digesting your food, in some studies by up to 100 calories a day.
Sources of protein – it’s not just meat!
When people think of protein, it’s usually steak, chicken, egg whites and the ever popular ‘protein shakes’ which come to mind. Animal proteins are commonly referred to as ‘complete proteins’ because they contain the nine essential amino acids your body cannot synthesise. But it’s not essential to eat meat to get your quota of protein - Quinoa Crack serves up all nine too!
Plant-based protein sources also have additional health benefits. In contrast to animal protein, which has been associated with heart disease and cancer, plant protein has been linked with reduced risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, not to mention it’s better for the environment.
Living entirely plant-based can be difficult for most people. Aim for a largely plant-based diet with quality over quantity as the rule of thumb on animal products.