If the old adage, “You are what you eat” is true, then you should definitely eat a lot of protein. Protein is literally what your body is primarily made of, and it is what enables your body to perform a vast majority of its functions. These are 6 ways that protein benefits your body and your weight, too.

Protein molecules provide structure to many parts of the body, including muscles, skin, organs, and even hormones, just to name a few. The health of your entire body depends on your protein consumption, so it is advisable to do it at every meal.

Some excellent sources of protein include organic pasture-raised eggs, grass-fed beef, organic chicken, and wild salmon.

However, given most of our hectic schedules, making sure we get enough protein can be a real challenge. A great way to supplement your diet with high-quality protein, especially during the holiday season, is with protein powder .

In this article, I will describe six ways that adequate protein promotes long-term health by increasing lean muscle mass, healing and repairing your body, providing energy, and helping with blood sugar and control. of weight.

Here are some wonderful health benefits you can reap with very little effort – just add a scoop of protein powder to your morning tea or smoothie.

Why is protein important?

Protein is very important to your overall health. It is more than important, in fact, it is critical. Your optimal health depends on a sufficient daily protein intake.

Protein is a macronutrient, which means that your body needs large amounts of it, as opposed to the small amount of micronutrients your body needs, such as vitamins and minerals.

And unlike fats, your body does not have protein reserves, so you must consume them daily. Let’s dive a little deeper into what protein actually is.

Protein molecules consist of hundreds or thousands of amino acids linked together in “chains.” There are 20 different types of amino acids, and the sequence of these amino acids determines the specific three-dimensional structure and subsequent function of each protein.

Protein molecules are your body’s workhorses, as different types perform a myriad of tasks.

Protein molecules called antibodies support your immune system by fighting invasive bacteria and viruses. Enzymes, another protein molecule, carry out chemical reactions within cells, in addition to helping in the formation of new molecules and helping you digest your food.

Some types of hormones are messenger proteins that coordinate biological processes in your tissues and organs. These are just a few of the functions protein plays in your body .

It also helps satisfy your appetite, minimizing hunger signals throughout the day. Increasing your protein intake can also help with weight loss , decrease belly fat, and increase lean muscle mass.

A high-protein diet can also lower blood pressure and lower the risk of diabetes. About 10% to 35% of the total calories in a day should be protein, depending on age and activity level.

6 ways protein benefits your body and weight

1. Contains amino acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of all proteins and allow the synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters. There are 20 amino acids, and your body needs all of them for optimal health. These amino acids are classified as essential and non-essential.

The 9 essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Ironically, these essential amino acids are not produced by your body and must be consumed in the food you eat. The best sources of them are animal proteins, such as eggs and meat.

2. Promotes the building of lean muscle

Protein promotes lean muscle building and also increases metabolism. Protein is the magic muscle food. Your body breaks it down into amino acids, which then build muscle.

Logically, your protein intake should increase in line with the rate of muscle loss as you age. Protein supplements make this much easier to achieve, because you can easily mix a scoop of protein powder in a glass of coconut milk, for example.

Protein is also associated with increased metabolism and fat burning . Muscle on average burns more calories than fat, so having a higher percentage of lean muscle mass increases the calorie burning rate by a factor of three.

Higher protein intake has been linked to reduced amounts of belly fat.

Protein also reduces age-related muscle deterioration. As we age, we begin to lose muscle mass.

This muscle loss starts sooner than you think. After age 30, you start to lose 3-5% per decade. You can compensate for this muscle loss by increasing your dietary protein intake.

3. Helps with cell repair

Protein accelerates the recovery process of your muscles after physical exertion . Every cell in your body is made of protein, and your body constantly uses protein to regenerate and repair cells.

Protein also promotes a healthy gut lining by facilitating the repair of leaky gut, a condition often seen in people with autoimmune diseases.

4. Supports sustained energy

High-protein snacks provide long-lasting endurance throughout the day in place of foods high in sugar and carbohydrates, which quickly spike blood sugar levels that then plummet, leading to a drop in energy.

High-protein snacks promote balanced blood and muscle sugar creation, as well as sustained energy.

5. Supports healthy blood pressure

Protein supports healthy blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to other, more serious conditions, such as heart disease and kidney failure.

Recent studies have linked high-protein diets to low blood pressure. Animal proteins, such as organic, grass-raised eggs contain high amounts of arginine, which lowers blood pressure by dilating blood vessels.

Protein also helps regulate insulin levels and the insulin response in your body. Protein-rich foods do not raise blood glucose levels, making them a healthy alternative to carbohydrate-rich foods.

6. Helps curb sugar cravings and stabilizes blood sugar

Protein helps provide a sustained feeling of fullness for longer by suppressing ghrelin. Ghrelin, or lenomorelin, is the “hunger hormone” produced in the intestine.

It is transported in the bloodstream to the brain, where it indicates that you are hungry and need to eat more. It literally increases your appetite. However, a high protein diet can promote moderate levels of ghrelin.

Protein also eliminates those mid-day sugar cravings by suppressing ghrelin production and lowering insulin levels. Therefore, you can easily maintain a healthy weight or help with weight loss efforts by adopting a high-protein diet.

People who eat higher amounts of protein have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight.

As you digest protein, your body breaks it down into individual amino acids. Insulin stimulates muscle cells to absorb amino acids, and glucagon causes the liver to release its sugar stores. As a result, your blood sugar levels remain stable after eating protein.

During the holiday season of parties, family gatherings, and office snacks, protein can help keep you from indulging in holiday treats by giving you a sense of fullness before heading out.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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