6 Reasons Why You Need More Protein in Your Diet
Protein is one of the most vital components of any diet. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian or meat-eater, protein is essential to help your body sustain itself. And, if you are looking to gain weight, lose weight or maintain your weight, you need protein as well. Protein is life sustaining and a key component to a healthy and balanced diet.
There are a variety of protein sources and ways in which you can obtain the required protein levels to support a healthy diet. You can find sources of protein in meat, fish, beans, nuts, quinoa (a complete protein), hemp seed, chia and soy, as well as supplements, such as protein bars and shakes.
A common recommendation for daily protein needs is about .38 grams per 1 pound of body weight. That means that the average 180 lb. male would need to eat 68.4 grams of protein each day at a minimum, and the average 166.2 lb. woman would need to eat 63.16 grams of protein each day. It is possible to get all the protein we need from food, but protein supplements provide a convenient way to meet this need.
Need Help to Meet Your Protein Needs?
This is where supplements and alternative protein sources come into play, such as protein bars and shakes, to get what you’re missing nutritionally. Depending on your dietary needs or restrictions, you have a variety of options for protein sources, including whey (a dairy source), legumes (from peas and other beans, nuts, soy and lentils), rice, hemp, sprouted grain, egg white and beef casein.
All proteins are not created equal. When buying protein supplements, you need to look at how much sugar is within the protein. While some sugar is good and helps us absorb protein, many protein sources and supplements contain far too much sugar. This excess sugar can add unnecessary calories and may cause significant increases and sharp decreases in your blood sugar.
Yes, protein supplements can cause a sugar crash.
When you pick out your next protein supplement, you also want to look for the one that has the lowest calorie to fat ratio. Even if you are looking to gain weight, you still want the leanest protein that does not have added calories as sugar and filler. Whichever source you choose, pay attention to your body and the way you feel after ingesting protein. Your body will tell you what you need and what’s good for you.
Here are 6 reasons why you need more protein in your diet:
1. To Lose Weight
A high protein diet will help you lean out and lose weight. Hormonally, you will feel more full and retain less fat when you eat a high protein diet. Your body will feel more satisfied due to your increased nutrient intake, which will cause you to reach less for unneeded snacks and high-calorie foods. While in the past you may have been told that calorie restrictions and eating high-fiber roughage (think salads) are the key to weight loss, eating your adequate protein levels is a much better and healthier means to achieve your ideal weight.
2. To Build and Sustain Muscle
The amino acids in protein aid your body in the development of muscle and helps your body go through several processes. A high protein diet will help your body continue to develop muscle and sustain the muscle that you have already.
3. To Increase Energy
Protein is also essential in creating energy through the electron transport chain. Without the proper levels of protein for your activity level and body weight, you will not have adequate energy to fuel your body and allow you to perform optimally. Listen to your body. If you are feeling sluggish, increase your protein intake instead of reaching for an energy drink, and then gauge how you feel. The next time that you choose hot yoga over another episode of reality TV, your body will thank you.
4. To Feel Good
Your body will tell you what it wants and what it doesn’t. After eating, you should feel energized, not sluggish. If you feel bloated after you eat, it means that your body is not absorbing the protein right and the food is not agreeing with your digestive system. If this is the case, try an alternative protein source, see how you feel, and if you feel amazing, stick with that source.
5. To Stay Mentally Sharp
The amino acids in protein will help you stay sharp mentally. The same energy processes that your muscles go through when you exercise are the same energy processes that your brain goes through when you think. Make sure that you get your daily required protein levels to improve and maintain your mental cognition, and to avoid brain farts and increase your mental clarity in the future.
6. To Satisfy Hunger
Hunger is your body’s demand for more nutrients. Eating a high protein diet will help you feel fuller longer. Thus, when your body has a nutrient-rich diet, you will not get “hangry” (hungry + angry) at your friends and family.
When it comes to the protein-packed foods you eat and additional protein supplements you take, choose nutritional sources that make you feel good and that are good for you. Feeling hungry or need a sweet treat? Drop that candy bar and reach for a protein bar or shake. It will satisfy your sweet tooth and supply your body with much-needed nutrients and protein to keep you feeling full and satisfied.
Whether it’s a thick t-bone steak, a bowl of quinoa with veggies and tofu or a protein supplement, whichever way you like it, just make sure that you are getting your required protein requirements to keep your body in tip-top shape and ready for your next yoga class or aerobic excursion.