Counting calories, exercising regularly, and still not seeing success?
According to Alison Gosby, PhD, paying attention to the amount of calories of protein you consume may play a crucial role in your ability to lose weight.
“Any dietary intervention that results in dilution or restriction of protein in the diet will promote overeating in the environment where food is abundant,” she explains, when protein in the diet goes too low “we keep eating in an attempt to attain our target level of protein.”
But why exactly is protein so important and how much do you really need to stay healthy? Let’s take a step back to learn all about protein and how to get the most benefits out of your diet.
Why Protein is Important
“Protein is one of the body’s main building blocks for muscle, bone, skin, and other tissues,” says experts at WebMD, and according to Donald Layman, PhD, “protein dulls hunger and can help prevent obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.”
Additionally, according to George Bray, MD, “very low protein diets are clearly detrimental. You lose lean body mass.”
How Much Protein Do You Need?
In the past, the RDA for protein was about 56 grams for the average adult, but new studies and experts suggest that the necessary protein intake may be much higher than that depending on your current weight and level of activity.
Highly trained athletes may need as much as.7 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, or about 140 grams for a 180 pound man.
However, that’s at the higher end of the scale. Men who work out 5 or more days a week for an hour or longer may only need.55 grams per pound, and if you only work out 3 to 5 days a week for 45 minutes, you may need just.45 grams per pound.
Trying to lose weight? Protein is still crucial for your results. The fewer total calories you consume throughout the day, the more protein you need to compensate for the loss, says Layman. You may need to bump up your protein intake to about.45 or.68 grams per pound in order to preserve lean muscle mass.
When’s the Best Time to Consume Protein?
Some experts claim that the human body can only digest about 30 to 40 grams in a single sitting and any more than that may put stress on the kidneys, but despite the fact that a lot of research has been done on the effects of protein, not a lot has been done on the digestibility of protein – and this limit may be more fiction than fact.
However, when you consume your protein may have a significant impact on your physical performance. “At any given moment, even at rest, your body is breaking down and building protein,” says Jeffry Volek, PhD, and studies have shown that 30 grams of protein can be enough to trigger protein synthesis for up to 3 hours.
Consequently, you’ll need to ensure that you consume enough protein to sustain yourself throughout the day rather than simply scarfing down some chicken wings for dinner, otherwise protein synthesis will only be stimulated for that brief time during dinner rather than spread evenly throughout the day.
Including Protein In Your Diet
Now that you know all about protein and why it’s important, it’s the perfect time to figure out how to boost your protein intake!
Although protein can be found in a wide variety of foods, not all protein sources are equal. Animal products such as milk, eggs, meat, and fish are typically the best sources for protein as they offer the right proportions of essential amino acids that your body can’t synthesize on its own.
However, if you’re vegetarian, these sources of protein might not be an option, so you’ll have to turn to nuts, legumes, grains, and soy in order to get the necessary amount.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to consume approximately 20 to 25% more plant-based proteins in order to obtain the same amount of benefits that animal proteins have to offer, which may make it difficult to lose weight since you have to consume the extra carbs.
What About Protein Shakes?
According to Jose Antonio, Chief executive officer at the International Society of Sports Nutrition, “Most people can’t make a meal immediately after post-workout, so these ready-to-drink shakes are really your best alternative.”
Although research hasn’t exactly proven the role of protein shakes in sports performance and muscle building, increasing your protein intake does offer a wide variety of health benefits even if it does come pre-packaged.