Protein Is Your Friend

Gina Rogean, APRN

One of the issues we find in patients dealing with weight resistance is not eating enough calories and not consuming enough protein. Yes, that’s right. Not enough. Macros, short for macronutrients, are the protein, carbohydrates, and fats we consume in our diet. The importance of protein intake cannot be underestimated. Protein has so many benefits and it is highly misunderstood. The research behind its benefits is well documented. Here are some reasons why protein is your friend. First, protein keeps you fuller, and longer. This is due to the influence of hormones. Higher protein intake increases the satiety hormones GLP-1, peptide YY, cholecystokinin, and reduces the hunger hormone, ghrelin.

Protein is also known to have a higher TEF or thermic effect on food. The estimated thermic effect of protein is 30%. This means that 100 calories of protein only ends up as 70 usable calories. Even though not all agree on the numbers, what is agreed upon is that protein has a much higher thermic effect compared to carbs, which has 5-10%, and fat, which has 0-3%.

Protein allows your body to hold onto greater muscle mass and stay leaner. Protein increases muscle protein synthesis and slows the breakdown of muscle which enables the body to keep lean tissue. Also, the amino acids in protein are proven in multiple studies to correlate with less belly fat in individuals who consume higher quantities.

Also, research consistently demonstrates that higher protein intake leads to increased bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Along with bones, it strengthens tendons and helps speed up recovery after injury as protein synthesis accelerates the repair of connective tissue. Higher protein intake aids in brain function.

Protein is Made of:

Protein is made of amino acids which are not only the building blocks for muscle, but also for the chemical messengers involved in many different processes in the body. This includes processes that allow our body to produce energy, achieve mental clarity, have better sleep/wakeful cycles, lower blood pressure and much more.

How much Protein are you Eating?

So, how much protein should you be eating? Aim for 1 gram of protein per goal body weight, per day. For example, if you are 150 lbs. and are looking to lose 20 lbs., aim for 130 grams of protein per day. You can go higher depending on your personal goals and physique aspirations. Overall, there are so many great benefits to beefing up the protein in your diet. Pun intended. We hope this helps you attain a better understanding of why protein is your friend.