The Importance of Protein

Dieting Tips

Why you should consider a high protein diet.

While the dangers of consuming sugar and excess carbohydrates are well documented, health and fitness experts can all agree that regular consumption of protein is critical in maintaining optimal health and wellbeing.

Known as the building blocks of life, proteins are found in every cell of the human body. Not only is protein required to make new cells and repair existing cells, numerous studies also suggest that a high-protein diet has major benefits for weight loss and metabolic health.

Some benefits of a high protein intake are listed below:

Protein reduces appetite.

Proteins take longer to digest than other nutrients, which reduces hunger and makes you feel full for longer. Numerous studies have shown that a diet comprised of at least 30% protein will significantly reduce the overall amount of calories consumed.

A high protein breakfast can significantly reduce snacking throughout the day.
Suppress hunger with protein rich foods such as eggs, milk, poultry, grains, seeds and nuts.

Protein increases the calories burned.

Not only does protein take longer to digest, assisting in prolonging the feeling of “fullness”, the high thermic effect of protein results in burning 20-30% of the calories consumed during digestion. Not only are more calories burned, the calories are burned at all hours of the day, including when you sleep.

Digesting protein burns significantly more calories than digesting fats or carbohydrates.

Protein improves bone health.

In addition to calcium and vitamin D, dietary proteins represent key nutrients for bone health and thereby function in the prevention of osteoporosis. Several studies point to a positive effect of high protein intake on bone mineral density or content.

A high protein consumption is linked to a lower risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Proteins carry oxygen throughout the body in red blood cells. A high protein diet can result in a decreased blood pressure.

Protein lowers blood pressure.

A high protein diet (particularly plant based) results in a lower blood pressure, as well as reduced low-density lipoproteins (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides.

A lower blood pressure reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Protein aids in recovery after injury.

Proteins are known as the body’s building blocks and are transported within red blood cells. Research has shown that protein can ease muscular soreness and speed up recovery after heavy use, while also helping to fight infection, balance body fluids, and carry oxygen through your body.

In the case of cuts, or more severe injuries, the body’s natural building blocks are critical for recovery.
Your diet influences the speed at which injuries heal.

Protein helps build lean muscle and strength.

Similarly to assisting with recovery after injury, protein greatly accelerates recovery after physical activity and exercise, helping to increase muscle size and strength.

When partaking in strenuous physical activity, increased protein intake is also known to improve strength, as well as muscle preservation, growth and recovery.

Protein promotes good overall health.

Protein assists with both losing and gaining weight, as well as maintaining strength in the muscles and bones. It aids in preventing muscle degeneration with age or rapid weight loss. Protein is present in red blood cells, critical for transporting oxygen throughout the body and healthy function.

In summary, there are five important roles of protein:

  1. Build. Protein is a building block of bones, muscles, cartilage and skin. (your hair and nails are mostly comprised of protein).
  2. Repair. Your body uses protein to build and repair skin and muscle tissue.
  3. Oxygenate. Red blood cells contain a protein compound that carries oxygen throughout the body. This helps supply your entire body with the nutrients it needs.
  4. Digest. About half the dietary protein that you consume each day goes into making enzymes, which aids in digesting food, and making new cells and body chemicals.
  5. Regulate. Protein plays an important role in hormone regulation, especially during the transformation and development of cells during puberty.

The average person eats enough protein to prevent deficiency, but many would benefit from an increased protein intake.

Some delicious foods that are high in protein include:

Beef

Almonds

Peanuts

Chicken & Turkey Breast

Egg Whites

Quinoa

Fish & other Seafood

Greek Yoghurt

Oats

Milk, Cheese & other Dairy

Lentils

Broccoli

Pumpkin Seeds

Sunflower Seeds

Brussels Sprouts

Powdered Protein Supplements

A balanced diet is critical for optimal health and should be based on your energy requirements. As a general dietary recommendation, consider a 40/30/30 macronutrient split (40% protein or carbohydrates, 30% protein or carbohydrates, 30% fats).

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About the Author: Harrison has more than a decade of experience on, and off, the rugby field as a player, junior coach and part-time referee. His passion for rugby led him to the Australian Institute of Personal Trainers where he studied the human body, exercise and nutrition, before being registered as a health and fitness professional with Fitness Australia and Fitness First Australia. Although the career path has changed, his passion for health, fitness, and Rugby will always remain.

Published by Harry Hansford

Australian in Spain with a passion for all things sport, health, fitnes & nature. Go deeper to find out more.

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