Good nutrition has become important today more than ever. Sedentary lifestyle and stress can take a toll on a person’s health, so the food turns into one of the only sources of nutrients. A healthy diet with protein can help you control weight, reduce risks of certain serious diseases, like cancer and diabetes, and make you feel better mentally.
The nutrients you get through food can be micronutrients and macronutrients. As their name suggests, you need micronutrients in smaller amounts, like vitamins and minerals, which are essential for the proper functioning of your body. They are responsible for some physical and mental processes in the body, like fluid balance, growth, and production of enzymes.
Alternatively, your body needs large amounts of macronutrients since they provide calories that give the body energy and can have an effect on important bodily processes, like metabolism. There are three primary macronutrients that you need to balance daily: fat, carbohydrates, and protein. The way you balance these three macronutrients in your diet can determine your health.
Protein is probably one of the most important macronutrients since in the absence of carbohydrates the body can use it for energy in a process called gluconeogenesis. So let’s find out more about how it affects the body and quality of life.
What is protein
It’s a complex substance involved in the chemical processes in the body. It was first recognized and named in the 19th century as one of the most significant substances in the body. Proteins differ between species and organs inside the body, giving them a large role in the way organisms function.
For humans, animals and their products present the main source of protein, although consuming certain plants, like legumes, can serve as a replacement. Enzymes and hormones are some of the most notable proteins that can have an impact on vital processes in the body. With that in mind, here are 14 key benefits that ingesting protein can do for your health.
It brings satiety
While you may believe that carbs are the reason you feel full, it’s actually the protein that brings satiety. And this is all possible with eating less food because protein reduces the levels of ghrelin known as the hunger hormone. At the same time, it increases the peptide YY levels, which is a hormone that makes you feel sated. Based on a study, high-protein meals increase satiety more than the diets based on low protein intake.
It’s good for the bones
It was once believed that protein can damage the bones by causing calcium loss. However, many studies debunked this myth, proving that protein plays a major role in the proper development of bones. Proteins are considered a key element in preserving bone health and preventing certain diseases, like osteoporosis.
As we age, the bone mass decreases, and they become more susceptible to injury and fractures. To maintain a healthy bone mass, it’s recommended to have a high-protein diet. This may be the most vital for women since they have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis after menopause.
Protein does not harm kidneys
Kidneys are organs that detoxify our bodies by filtering waste, liquids, and excess nutrients from the blood. A high-protein diet can help with weight loss, lower blood sugar, and prevent diabetes — all responsible for kidney damage.
While eating more protein may cause kidneys to work a little bit harder, it has no significance to their extensive function. This is only harmful to people who already suffer from impaired renal function. But it can bring a lot of benefits for individuals with healthy kidneys.
It can boost metabolism
Just by eating, you are boosting your metabolism since the body uses calories to digest food. This process is known as the thermic effect of food. However, what type of food you eat can affect this process and make it more efficient.
Unlike carbs and fat, protein has a higher thermic effect in the range of 20–35%. Because of this, it can significantly boost metabolism and consequently allow your body to burn more calories. In some cases, this can lead to over 200 calories burn out — more than it would with a low-protein diet.
It can prevent food cravings
We all have experienced food cravings, especially late at night. Unlike hunger, food craving is all about desiring to eat something, and not about your body needs to do it for nutrients and energy. But regardless, food craving is psychological, making it harder to control.
One way to prevent them from happening can be by increasing the protein ratio in your diet. By increasing its intake to 25%, you may be able to reduce food cravings by 60%. For example, having a high-protein breakfast may reduce the need for late-night snacks, giving you power over your food cravings.
The power to boost metabolism and reduce food cravings may be a helpful property of protein with weight loss. A study demonstrated that overweight people who ate fewer calories but more proteins had 53% more loss of body fat than subjects on normal protein intake.
More importantly, it can help you maintain your weight loss, something that presents quite a challenge for many. So, not only can a high-protein diet help you lose unwanted pounds, but continuing with this dietary habit can help you keep that desired weight.
Keeps you fit as you age
As we age, our bodies lose valuable nutrients which can lead to the onset of certain debilitating conditions and cause a decline in quality of life. One of those issues is the weakening of muscles known as age-related sarcopenia, causing bone fractures and frailty. By introducing more proteins to your diet, you can prevent this condition and muscle deterioration.
To gain the best results, pair up a high-protein diet with some sort of physical activity that will help you grow muscles and make them stronger. Weight lifting or any other resistance workout may be just what you need to keep your muscles healthy as you age.
Lowers the risk of diabetes
Diabetes is a serious health condition that happens when your blood sugar is too high. It occurs when your body is not able to make or use hormone insulin that turns sugar from food into energy. Overweight and obese people are especially at risk of developing this condition, so losing weight is vital for their health.
Besides helping them lose and maintain weight, the protein will also keep them stay full longer and help them avoid unwanted snacks. Oily fish and lean meats are the sources of healthy protein recommended not only for diabetics but also for everyone else who wants to lead a healthy life. Paying attention to your diet early on can have a lot of health benefits, including lowering the risk of diabetes.
Keeps your body oxygenated
Red blood cells contain hemoglobin — a protein that carries oxygen throughout the body from your lungs. Many protein-rich foods, like egg yolks and red meat, are rich in iron which creates hemoglobin after binding with protein. If you suffer from insufficient iron in your blood known as anemia, you will experience shortness of breath and fatigue.
Low oxygen levels in the blood can lead to poor organ performance and negatively affect your daily activities. Since 70% of iron is in hemoglobin, eating a high-protein diet may help you function normally and give your organs the necessary nutrients.
Healthy hair, skin and nails
Because protein is an integral part of your hair, skin, and nails, you need to make sure you have enough of it in your diet to keep them healthy. Some studies even suggest that eating high-protein foods can have anti-aging benefits for the skin.
Just like protein helps build muscles, it also can help your nails and hair grow faster and stronger. Lack of protein in your diet can lead to brittle nails and hair loss. By eating more protein-rich food, like fatty fish, eggs, and shrimp you may improve the quality of your hair, nails, and skin.
Helps you maintain muscle mass
Eating a protein-rich diet can help you increase and maintain muscle mass. This is very important for those who are working out or participate in any other type of physical activity. The best whey protein as a supplemental diet may add 25–50 grams of protein to your day. Adding supplementation to your existing diet will make sure you get an adequate amount of protein for building your muscle strength.
Another major fact is that if you are on a weight loss program, protein can prevent muscle loss, allowing you to healthy shed pounds. Since muscles are made mostly of proteins, you will also promote their growth. For children and athletes, having a high-protein meal can be just what their bodies need for healthy and proper development.
It can speed up recovery
After an injury, a high-protein diet may just be what your body needs to repair itself. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since protein forms the main building blocks of organs and tissue. Basically, every part of your body contains proteins and needs them to function properly.
Even when walking, exercising, or doing any other type of physical activity, you put a certain strain on your muscular system. Because of protein, your body can repair natural tears that happen during these activities and build new tissue. Based on research, insufficient protein intake can impair wound healing and increase muscle loss.
Lowers your blood pressure
High blood pressure is very common today because of unhealthy habits, stress, and being sedentary for most of the day. If not regulated, it can lead to serious conditions, like stroke and heart attack. Many factors can help you lower your blood pressure, and having a high-protein diet is one of them.
Not only can more protein in your food lower the blood pressure, but it can also decrease the values of LDL known as the bad cholesterol and triglycerides. All this can have a positive effect on your overall cardiovascular health, and reduce the risks of developing heart and blood vessel diseases.
The source of amino acids
Proteins are made of amino acids that promote the production of neurotransmitters and hormones. The body needs these amino acids to function properly and keep you healthy. There are 20 amino acids categorized into nine essential and eleven non-essential ones. Since essential amino acids are not produced by the body, you need to introduce them through food.
The best way to do this is by eating more protein. Eggs, lean meat, fish, legumes, nuts, and grains are an excellent source of protein. Soy milk and tofu are a great way to replace dairy products since they contain all nine essential amino acids.
Protein has a significant power to preserve our health. It’s true that not all protein is good for you, but choosing your foods carefully is always the key to healthy living. One thing is certain, paired with exercise and mindfulness, a high-protein diet can have a significant role in improving your life and habit