Protein is the cornerstone of any respectable fat loss meal plan. Besides being the building blocks of muscle, protein has many other health benefits. We take a look at 5 reasons why you should consume more protein for improved health and a better looking physique.
What Is Protein?
Protein enriched foods are classified as nitrogenous organic compounds which compose of one or more long chain amino acids that are essential to all living organisms.
The amino acid profile of certain food types dictates the quality of protein available. In total, there are 9 different types of essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are only available through food sources as our body are unable to produce these types on it’s own. The more essential amino acids, the better the quality of protein. The best forms of protein include chicken, eggs, beef, salmon and whey protein.
1. Greater Gains in Lean Muscle Mass
Protein consumption stimulates protein synthesis (the production of protein) and suppresses protein breakdown for greater gains in lean muscle mass.
Our bodies are constantly fluctuating between muscle loss and muscle gain depending on the availability of amino acids. The replenishment of amino acids promotes better muscle development, and in turn speeds up muscle recovery after weight training. High protein diets have been proven to improve gains of lean muscle whilst regulating insulin sensitivity reducing the capacity to store fat.
2. Improved Satiety Equals Greater Fat Loss
High protein diets provide a better state of satiety after meals. The ‘fullness’ feeling after a protein enriched meal reduces hunger and therefore overall calories as protein is more filling with less calories compared to other macro nutrients – carbohydrates and fats. It is for this reason why high doses of protein should be an integral part of any low calorie meal plan. The fuller you are, the less calories consumed, allowing for a greater chance of achieving a caloric deficit for fat loss.
Protein also has a thermogenic effect on the body boosts metabolism which also contributes to improving fat metabolism.
A study on college football players consuming 2 g/kg/day found an increase of 14.3 kg in squat strength over a 12 week period. When compared to a control group, the high protein group showed a whopping 13.5 kg difference in strength on the leg press.
The increases in strength can be contributed to the gain in lean muscle and quicker recovery. The more muscle mass, the more contributing muscle fibers to lift weights.
4. Improved Bone Density
Past studies have shown that high protein diets may have been detrimental to bone health. The theory was based on the acidic affect high protein diets have on the body. To counteract the acid produced from high protein consumption, bicarbonate ions is released from the bone matrix, attributing to losses in sodium, calcium and potassium – all components essential to bone health.
However, a recent large scale study proved that higher protein diets assist in building bone due to amino acid availability. A higher protein intake improves the hormone IGF-1, a regulator in bone metabolism. A antioxidant enriched diet consisting of vegetables and fruit is highly recommended to counteract acidic load for optimal health.
A four week study conducted on individuals with hypertension (high blood pressure) found a profound decrease in blood pressure.
Over a 4 week period the group were subjected to and increase of 60 g of protein per day to their normal protein consumption. When compared to a control group, the higher protein group reduced systolic blood pressure by 4.9 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 2.7 mm Hg, which is more than the recommended 2 mm Hg reduction for clinical blood pressure medication.
- Protein is the building blocks of muscle
- High protein diets require less calories for a state of satiety for greater fat loss – Keeps you fuller for longer
- Protein increases muscle mass and strength
- High protein diets improves bone health
- High protein diets can help reduce blood pressure – Consult your GP before making any changes to blood pressure medication