When it comes to your diet, things can get a bit complicated and confusing. However one thing that has been proven to be true is that protein rich foods and drinks are highly beneficial. Why specifically? Keep reading and you’ll find out.
Each year, new trendy diets become popular. They’re featured in countless books, television programs, and so forth. Typically, they make claims such as “quick fat loss guaranteed.” It can be all too easy to get sucked into the buzz without really knowing if such claims are backed up by proven statistics.
Two current popular diets you’ve probably heard about are the Mediterranean Diet and Paleo. These two actually aren’t bad at all. Other diets, such as the Low Carb diet, Fasting diet, and HCG diet, are pretty much just hype and can be dangerous to your health.
The goal of this post is to remove the “blinders” so to speak and focus on the fundamental fact that protein consumption plays a major role in diet. Once you read this, you’ll be able to improve the composition of your body and general wellbeing. If you don’t keep reading, you’ll more than likely always have a hard time getting the physical results you really want.
Protein is the main component that makes up your body. It’s utilized to make different types of tissue, such as muscles, skin, tendons, and organs. It’s also important for certain chemicals in the brain, enzymes, and hormones to function properly.
Protein is made up of tiny molecules called amino acids that are connected in a pliable, chain-like structure. The human body can make 12 of these necessary molecules on its own, which are called non-essential amino acids. Nine more of them, which are called essential amino acids, need to be acquired through protein from food. Hence, the quantity of protein consumed on a daily basis is the deciding factor on whether the body has a sufficient amount of these types of amino acids.
The type of protein that you choose to consume is important. One of the best types of protein for essential amino acids comes from animals. A few examples are dairy products, eggs, meat, and fish. If you don’t consume animal products, then try some alternatives that come from plants such as peas, soy, and rice.
Main Advantages of a Protein Rich Diet
One of the main benefits of a protein rich diet is that it promotes strength and muscle. This is because muscle mass is mainly made up of protein. What’s more is that when you work out, you break down existing mass and start protein synthesis. What is protein synthesis you ask? It’s when new protein is added to your muscles. Therefore, working out your muscles with weights or doing resistance exercises is very important to promote muscle mass and strength. Additionally, such exercise causes your body to need even more protein.
A second advantage of a protein rich diet is that it supports the loss of fat. In fact, studies have shown that it supports fast fat loss and makes it less difficult to follow a low calorie diet. Specifically, it decreases tiredness, stress, and mood swings when on a low calorie diet. Other studies have shown that it helps to preserve lean muscle mass. Hence, such a diet helps create a lean body with less fat and more muscle.
The third primary benefit of a protein rich diet is that it fills you up which decreases hunger. This is very beneficial if your goal is to lose fat. Many people end up breaking their diets because they get hungry and overeat right? Furthermore, one particular study showed that protein rich meals satisfied our bodies better in comparison to meals rich in fat.
A fourth advantage of a diet rich in protein is that it helps to maintain muscle when you get older. Muscle loss due to getting older, which is called sarcopenia, can be debilitating and even cause death. Studies reveal that there is an increased chance of deadly diseases and injuries as muscle mass decreases due to aging. What’s more is that older adults simply don’t utilize protein as well as people that are young. Therefore, a diet that’s rich in protein can be used to promote sarcopenia prevention. Also, note that adding in resistance exercise is beneficial too, since building muscle is possible at any age. One last benefit of eating a protein rich diet when you get older is that it can help stop the development of osteoporosis.
How Much Protein Should You Ingest?
The information out there about protein intake tends to vary from source to source, so let’s focus on the proven studies. According to the Institute of Medicine, protein needs to make up about 15-30% of calories each day. However, this is a fairly wide range. Is there a way to narrow this gap for a specific person? Can more than 30% be beneficial? To answer these questions, we need to refer to further research.
Studies done by McMaster University found that roughly 0.5 to 0.7 grams of protein for every pound of weight is needed for optimal protein synthesis. However, it was also noted that even more might be required if a person is cutting back on calories and exercising often in an intense manner.
Another study done by The University of Western Ontario showed similar findings as well. However, this latter study found that factors such as quality of protein, age, and gender might play an important role. A third study found that prolonged resistance training might result in a reduced need for protein to promote muscle mass. Additional findings concluded that:
- About 0.7 to 1g of dietary protein for each pound you weigh is ideal if you are pretty lean but not restricting calories.
- If you ARE restricting calories, then the best range would be around 1 to 1.3g of dietary protein for every pound you weigh.
- As a general rule then, 1g of protein is needed for each pound of mass that you have.
Studies reveal that cutting calories causes a higher need of protein for athletes that practice weightlifting. This is even truer as an individual gets leaner, since more of it is needed to retain muscle mass when calories are being cut. If someone is overweight on the other hand (19%+ body fat for males and 29%+ for females), he or she should consume roughly 1g of dietary protein for every pound of mass that is considered LEAN (total weight minus fat) when cutting calories.
Does a Protein Rich Diet Have Any Health Risks?
There have been some negative claims about consuming too much protein. Some claims state that it could lead to osteoporosis, cancer, or kidney problems. However, the truth is that science doesn’t back up such claims.
As you might recall from earlier in this post, studies actually PROVE that a protein rich diet is advantageous in terms of osteoporosis. As for the claim about cancer, it has been said that consuming cheeses and meats on a daily basis is just as bad as using tobacco products.
According to Dr. Nadolsky, this particular claim is, “pure sensationalism.” When it comes to the claim about kidney problems, studies demonstrate that individuals with kidney conditions that already exist ought to lessen protein consumption. However, a diet rich in protein has not been known to lead to kidney conditions.
The Bottom Line on Protein
A protein rich diet will definitely benefit your athletic performance (even endurance), overall health, and body composition. Even if you’re not a highly active person, you still need enough of it in order to preserve your muscles and bones as you get older.
Remember that a proper diet is just one of the three components to achieving optimal health and fitness levels; the other two involve partaking in regular bodybuilding workouts and properly taking bodybuilding supplements. This post addresses the first component – your diet.
Are you currently getting enough protein in your diet every day?