Protein is an important macronutrient and essential building block for your entire body. It’s found in muscles, bones, cartilage, skin, hair and virtually every part of your body. The human body relies on a minimum of 10,000 different proteins to function properly! Protein itself consists of 20 or so basic building blocks called amino acids. Unlike fat and carbohydrates, your body doesn’t store amino acids. They are either produced from scratch or by modifying amino acids from the food you eat. Of the 20 amino acids, there are nine essential amino acids that are not made by the body and can only come from the foods you eat. That is why it is so important to eat the right protein rich foods.
Why is Protein Important?
The following benefits underscore the importance of getting adequate protein in your diet:
- The body needs protein to build, maintain and repair bones, muscles, skin and tissue. People who eat more protein tend to maintain bone mass better as they age, reducing their risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Many studies show eating plenty of protein helps increase muscle mass and strength. This is especially important when you’re strength training and exercising; a recommended part of most weight loss regimens.
- Protein is the primary component of enzymes that power many chemical reactions and hemoglobin, a protein compound in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body, supplying it with important nutrients.
- About 50% of the dietary protein you consume daily is used to make enzymes, which aids in digestion and formation of new cells and body chemicals.
- Protein plays a key role in hormone regulation, especially during puberty when cells are undergoing transformation and development.
- Several studies have shown increasing dietary protein reduces late-night snacking and food cravings. This is likely due to protein’s positive impact on the brain hormone dopamine, which regulates cravings and addictions.
- A review of 40 controlled studies found increased dietary protein lowered blood pressure, while one study found it also reduced bad (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides.
Does Protein Give You Energy?
Not consuming enough protein during the day is one reason you may feel fatigued. Protein calories are used as an energy source when the body lacks fat or carbohydrate calories for fuel. Protein takes longer than carbohydrates to break down, so it provides a longer-lasting source of energy.
Protein and Weight Loss
Research consistently shows that high-protein diets increase satiety and decrease hunger compared to high-fat or high-carbohydrate diets. Protein reduces the level of the hunger hormone ghrelin, while boosting levels of peptide, a hormone that makes you feel full. In addition, protein boosts your metabolism and increases the number of calories you burn. This is due to its higher thermic effect of food (TEF). TEF is the increase in your metabolic rate after you eat food.
Several studies found the majority of people on high-protein diets consumed about 200 calories less per day, which likely explains some of the weight loss associated with this type of diet. In one study, increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% of calories resulted in overweight women eating 441 fewer calories a day without intentionally restricting any foods.
How Much Protein is Optimal For Weight Loss?
Recent research suggests 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal may help balance your appetite and increase the chance of sticking to a diet (but it also depends on your body size and how many times you eat).
Bottom line: Consuming adequate protein can help you shed weight but overdoing it can lead to weight gain. You still need to watch your total caloric intake and choose wisely, because some sources of protein are less healthy than others.
Healthy Sources of Protein
Sure, a delicious 4-ounce steak delivers a whopping 33 grams of protein, but it also has 5 grams of saturated fat. A 4-ounce piece of grilled sockeye salmon delivers 30 grams of protein and is a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fats. This comparison is just one example of why it makes a difference to choose healthy sources of protein. Here are 10 healthy choices with grams of protein and calories:
- Broccoli (1 cup): 3 grams, 31 calories
- One large egg: 6 grams, 78 calories
- Almonds (1 oz.): 6 grams, 161 calories
- Quinoa (1 cup): 8 grams, 222 calories
- Protein shake (one serving): 15-20 grams, calories vary
- Non-fat greek yogurt (6 oz.) 17 grams, 100 calories
- Skinless turkey breast (3 oz.): 24 grams, 146 calories
- Cottage cheese (1 cup): 27 grams, 194 calories
- Roasted skinless chicken breast (3.5 oz.): 31 grams, 165 calories
- Canned tuna in water (6.5 oz. drained): 42.6 grams, 194 calories
The Lindora Clinic program follows a high protein, low carb diet, that facilitates weight loss. We also offer a variety of high protein, low carb healthy snacks to help you feel satisfied between meals, so you can continue to make healthy food choices. Our high-quality protein shakes, protein snacks and protein bars will help keep your metabolism burning between meals. Our Collagen Protein Dietary Supplement is a proprietary blend that leverages the health benefits of hydrolyzed beef collagen, whey protein isolate, Vitamins B12 and D3. Add this low-calorie supplement to smoothies or yogurt to help support your immune health and lean body mass!