Weight loss, blood sugar balance, strong muscles and bones… Optimal protein can do all that and much more.
For building muscle, curbing hunger and cravings, supporting the body’s healing process, playing critical roles in detoxification, and so much more, you need to make sure you’re getting optimal amounts of protein.
But with so much misinformation out there on protein needs, keto diets focusing on fat over all else, and poor nutrient quality in much of the food supply, most of us are simply not getting enough!
Why Protein in Your Diet is So Important
Every tissue in your body utilizes protein. And unlike carbs or fat, your body cannot store protein, so you must get it regularly through your diet.
Protein is made of amino acids, the building blocks your body needs to make muscle. Amino acids also create the hormones and neurotransmitters that make you feel great. They help you have the hair, skin, and nails that make you look fabulous, too.
Your body is able to create some of those amino acids on its own. Other key amino acids in protein — called essential amino acids — can only come from food. When you don’t get sufficient amounts of these essential amino acids, the many tasks assigned to protein can come to a grinding halt.
That’s why I emphasize having protein at every meal, including breakfast. Every meal should contain 25–50 grams of high-quality protein. If you’re under a lot of stress, just had surgery, are experiencing illness, or you’re very active, you’ll want to especially work towards hitting that 50-gram mark.
These recommendations are higher than the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein, which is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body mass, or about one gram of protein per three pounds of body weight. For someone weighing 150 pounds, that would be about 54 grams of protein daily.
Put another way, you don’t want to just prevent deficiencies. You want to thrive, stay strong, feel confident, and be your best self as you grow older, right? Getting optimal protein is the way to do that.
First, I want to look at one of the many reasons you need optimal protein: weight loss. I will cover maintaining strong muscles and bones, blood sugar balance, as well as explore signs of being low in protein, the best way to get correct amounts, and guidelines for building your plate in future posts.
With all this information, you’ll have everything you need to get all the benefits of protein, starting with your very next meal.
Protein Is Essential for Losing Weight & Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Whether you want to lose weight, stop weight regain, or support a healthy weight, you need optimal protein. Clinical trials show that consuming more protein than the RDA recommends helps:
>Reduce body weight
>Lower fat mass (the amount of fat you carry)
>Preserves fat-free mass (everything that comprises your body other than fat)
>Improves overall body composition
What’s more, longer-term clinical trials (between 6–12 months) found that a high-protein diet provides additional weight-loss benefits that can also prevent weight regain.
One reason for this is that compared with carbs and fat, protein has a much higher thermic effect. In other words, you burn more calories eating protein than you do fat and carbs. Other studies show that eating a higher-protein diet can also improve satiety, so you get full with fewer calories.
Protein also slows down stomach emptying, keeping your hunger hormone, ghrelin, at bay. And you’re far less likely to succumb to those mid-afternoon snacking temptations, even when the office receptionist brings in your favorite dessert.
Many times when a sugar craving hits, your body is really crying out for protein. When you’re low in protein, your system knows it needs energy, and you crave foods that will give you fuel fast.
If you reach for protein instead, it will actually help curb cravings for sweets by giving your body the kind of sustained energy it really needs. By eating protein, you can outsmart your sweet tooth!
Give it a try!!
Marsha Beals, Certified Health Coach & Wellness Educator
Specializing in Holistic Health & Healing Nutrition
Natural Beauty from Within