6 Ways Protein Benefits Your Body…and Your Weight
If the old adage, “You are what you eat!” is true, then you should definitely eat plenty of protein. Protein is quite literally what your body is primarily made of, and it’s what enables your body to perform a vast majority of its functions. Protein molecules provide structure to many parts of your body including your muscles, skin, organs, and even your hormones, just to name a few! The health of your entire body is dependant on your protein consumption — which is why I recommend it at every meal.
Some great sources of protein include organic, pasture-raised eggs, grass-fed beef, organic chicken, and wild-caught salmon. However, given most of our hectic schedules, ensuring that we get enough protein can be a real challenge. A great way to supplement your diet with high-quality protein, particularly during the holiday season, is with my Peppermint Mocha Paleo Protein. As we approach that festive time of year, the smell of peppermint mingled with sweet, smooth chocolate is certain to lift your spirits!
In this article, I’ll outline six ways the right protein promotes long-term health through increasing lean muscle mass, healing and repairing your body, providing energy and helping with blood sugar and weight control. These are some wonderful health benefits that you can reap with very little effort — just dropping a scoop of protein powder in your morning tea or smoothie is all it takes.
Why is Protein Important?
Protein is very important to your overall health! It’s more than important, in fact – it’s critical. Your optimal health is reliant upon sufficient intake of protein on a daily basis. Protein is a macronutrient, meaning your body needs large amounts of it, as opposed to the small amount of micronutrients your body needs like vitamins and minerals. And unlike fat, your body doesn’t have protein stores, so you need to consume it daily. Let’s dig 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 the workhorses of your body, as the different types perform a tremendous number 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 your cells, along with assisting 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.1 These are just a few of the roles protein plays in your body.
It also helps to satiate your appetite, minimizing hunger cues throughout the day. Increasing your protein consumption can also help with weight loss, decrease belly fat, and increase lean muscle mass. A high-protein diet can also lower blood pressure and decreases your risk of diabetes.2 About 10% to 35% of your total calories in a day should be protein, depending on your age and activity level.3
I do want to add a quick note for all vegans and vegetarians. I was a vegetarian for over 20 years and I ultimately discovered that this played a big role in why I developed an autoimmune condition. In the years since I have done extensive research and made a big shift in my own diet. Now I recommend that anyone dealing with autoimmunity add animal protein into your diet.
6 Ways Protein Benefits Your Body
1. Contains Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of all proteins.They enable the synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters. There are 20 amino acids, and your body requires all of them for optimal health. These amino acids are categorized 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.4
2. Promotes Lean Muscle Building
Protein promotes lean muscle building and it also boosts metabolism.5 Protein is the magic muscle food. Your body breaks it into amino acids, which then build muscle. Logically your protein intake should increase parallel to the rate of muscle loss as you age. Protein supplements like my Paleo Proteins make this much easier to accomplish, because you can easily mix a scoop of protein powder into a glass of coconut milk.
Protein is also associated with higher metabolism and fat burning. Muscle on average burns more calories than fat, so having a higher percentage of lean muscle mass increases your caloric burn rate by as much as a factor of three.6 Higher protein intake has been linked to reduced amounts of belly fat.7
Protein also reduces age-related muscle deterioration.8 As we age, we begin to lose muscle mass. This muscle loss starts earlier than you might think. After the age of 30, you begin to lose as much as 3% to 5% per decade.9 You can compensate for this loss of muscle by increasing your dietary protein intake.
3. Assists With Cell Repair
Protein actually speeds up the recovery process of your muscles after physical exertion.10 Every cell in your body is made of protein, and your body is constantly using protein to regenerate and repair cells. Protein also promotes a healthy gut-lining, as it facilitates the repair of leaky gut.
4. Supports Sustained Energy
Protein-rich snacks provide long-lasting stamina throughout your day as opposed to high sugar and carbohydrate foods, which quickly elevate blood sugar levels that then plummet, leading to an energy slump. High protein snacks promote balanced blood sugar and muscle creation, as well as sustained energy.
I love to blend a delicious protein shake with low-sugar fruits, veggies, and Paleo Protein powder to give me sustained energy throughout my busy days. This holiday season, I’ll be making festive smoothies with my new Peppermint Mocha Paleo Protein powder. I’ll be walking right past those fancy coffee shops and smoothie bars!
5. Supports Healthy Blood Pressure
Protein supports healthy blood pressure. Almost one-third of Americans have high blood pressure, which leads to other more serious conditions such as heart disease and kidney failure.
Recent studies have linked protein-rich diets to lower blood pressure. Animal proteins, such as pasture-raised, organic eggs contain high amounts of arginine, which lowers blood pressure by dilating blood vessels.11 Protein also helps regulate insulin levels and insulin response in your body. Protein-rich foods do not elevate blood glucose levels, so they are a healthy alternative to carbohydrate-filled foods.
6. Helps Curb Sugar Cravings and Stabilizes Blood Sugar
Protein helps provide a sustained sense of satiety for a longer duration by suppressing the ghrelin. Ghrelin, or lenomorelin, is the “hunger hormone” produced in your gut. It is carried in your bloodstream to your brain, where it signals that you feel hungry and need to eat more food. It literally increases your appetite. However, a high-protein diet can promote moderate ghrelin levels. 12
Protein also eliminates those mid-day sugar cravings by suppressing the production of ghrelin and reducing insulin levels. So, you can easily maintain a healthy weight or assist with weight-loss efforts by adopting a protein-rich diet. People who eat higher amounts of protein have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight.13
As you digest protein, your body breaks it down into individual amino acids. Insulin stimulates your muscle cells to take up amino acids and glucagon causes your liver to release its sugar stores. As a result, your blood sugar levels remain stable after you eat protein.
During the holiday season of parties, family gatherings, and office snacks, protein can help keep you from over-indulging on holiday treats by giving you a sense of fullness before you step out the door. A great source of protein to satisfy your hunger is my Peppermint Mocha Paleo Protein! This new flavor is not only a treat for your taste buds; it is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and free of rice, peas, or hemp. It is great for all protocols including AIP, The Myers Way®, the elimination diet, The Thyroid Connection, and even Candida and SIBO. It does not trigger an inflammatory response. It even contains healthy fats from MCT oil to help keep you full and encourage fat burning. Enjoy a holiday-flavored beverage that will keep you feeling full for hours — Peppermint Mocha Paleo Protein!