I have been using protein supplements for a long time. My main purpose in taking protein supplements was to help aid in recovery after my workouts. Through more exploration through being more invested in the health and fitness industry I realized that protein can serve my body with a lot more benefits. It isn’t something just to serve me after my workouts but something that should be an essential part of our diet, whether you live an active lifestyle or not.
Every cell in our entire body is made up of protein. Wow, just think about that statement for a second - literally every single spec of our bodies are made up of protein. Sounds like protein is pretty important to us and here is why.
Let’s talk a bit of science to understand exactly what is going on in our bodies. Simply speaking, proteins are large, complex molecules made up of smaller amino acid compounds. Some of the amino acids making up the protein are made by your body, but others are not. Since your body doesn’t have a way of storing this macronutrient, you need to get it from your diet.
Protein Functions In The Body
So from a very basic standpoint, you need protein to function, just like your body needs oxygen. Now let’s step into how your body functions due to protein. Protein provides energy in the form of calories. Your body burns protein when carbohydrates and fats are not available. Additionally proteins aid in your hormones and immune system. Your system pulls the amino acids from protein to help in any function it can when available in the body. Any excess is eliminated through the body via the urinary tract. All in all, adding too much protein to the body isn’t a bad or harmful thing. In fact, more protein aids in creating more muscle mass and strength, as proved in many scientific studies.
Which Foods Provide Good Protein Sources?
Without getting into the real nitty gritty, there are complete proteins and incomplete proteins. Some food sources provide a complete protein source and others sources provide incomplete proteins. To be called complete, it means that it provides all of your daily essential amino acids. This is not to say that a complete protein is necessarily better than an incomplete protein, it just means you need more than one incomplete protein to make a complete protein.
Complete proteins are - meat, seafood, dairy and eggs.
Incomplete proteins are - typically more plant based like whole grains, nuts, lentils and legumes.
Protein Can Boost Metabolism and Increase Fat Burning
A high protein diet has been shown to significantly increase the metabolism, then leading to an increase in the amount of calories you burn. One study even showed that an actual ‘overload’ of protein at one time, burns as many calories equivalent to a moderately-intense hour long workout. Ha - working out at a moderate pace for a hour and then consume an overload of protein could potentially be quite the bang for your buck!
How Much Protein Should I Intake?
The Recommended Dietary Allowance by the FDA states we should take in 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This is for the basic level of nutrients your body needs to function without getting sick. The Protein Summit reports in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition argue that 16% of your daily caloric make up being comprised of protein is anything but excessive. In fact, the reports suggest that Americans may even not eat enough. If you are active person then you are definitely going to need to increase your intake. This protein calculator is a great tool to calculate how much protein you need for your body weight in pounds.
Whether you are cooking a meal at home, ordering a meal at a restaurant or in need of a quick