Did you know that protein is one of the most important elements of your diet if you want to “lose weight”?
Second to water, protein (made up of amino acids) is the most abundant nutrient in our body. We need it for everything from growth and repair to mood support. With muscle loss comes a huge range of disease states, and over the age of 25-30yo, this needs to be a big priority of prevention.
How often do we hear women talk about how much they want to lose weight? All the time, right?!
But often, it seems a lot harder than it actually is because, for starters, there are so many opinions on how it’s done, and on the pursuit of “weight loss”, it is easy to get discouraged and confused.
So, I want to explain a few crucial elements that will help you to lose fat, build muscle, increase your metabolism and even reduce your appetite.
1. Protein Helps You Build Muscle
Building muscle is our number one goal when it comes to losing fat and keeping it off.
We need adequate protein in our diet - whether it be from whole food sources (like eggs, meats, fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, vegies, etc...), or from protein powders and supplements - it is needed to support repair and growth, and build the muscle and bone that we need so much.
There are 20 amino acids that our body uses, 9 of which (the essential amino acids) need to be consumed regularly because our body can’t make or recycle these enough. In order to build muscle, we must have enough of these amino acids in our diet.
When these are present in high enough levels in the blood, it helps to stimulate muscle growth and repair, and most importantly, prevent age-related muscle loss!
2. Protein Helps You Lose Fat
We need to support and build our muscle tissue because this is actually making our body much more efficient in producing energy and using fat for fuel.
When our body uses fat for fuel, this fat can be sent to the little energy factories in our cells, called mitochondria, and they can produce energy from the fat that we store, or from our diet.
If fat loss is your goal, then you would want to optimise the use of stored fat as fuel.
This process can be optimised when we have high levels of amino acids (from protein) in our blood, lower blood sugar levels (so, replacing some sugar and carbohydrates with protein), and exercising regularly to stimulate muscle repair and growth.
When we have been exercising, our bodies actually use fat for energy to repair the muscles afterwards. This is why having enough protein in our diet is crucial. Without these building blocks, your fat loss efforts could be very much halted.
3. How Protein Increases Metabolism
When we have high muscle mass, it increases our metabolism.
This is because muscle cells are so much more functional than fat cells.
This is what we are referring to when we say that muscle gives us a higher metabolism.
Muscle, especially skeletal muscle, is comprised of harder working cells that require and use more fuel, and therefore increase the calories used per day.
This can help us in our ‘fat loss’ efforts, because, if we are eating correctly and exercising well, with high protein, high vegetables and fruit, but a calorie deficit, we will have greater results because of our higher percentage of working muscle.
4. Reduce Your Appetite
Increasing your protein intake to approximately 15-25% of your daily calories can dramatically reduce your appetite and cravings. The amount you require also depends on your activity levels.
Try to keep plant protein sources high (10-20%), and animal protein sources low (5-10%).
When people don’t exercise enough to burn calories and build muscle, all while eating more than they need (especially in carbohydrates/sugars), the excess is stored as fat.
This is why over 2/3 of Western society are overweight or obese.
However, by increasing your protein intake, it has been shown that people consume less calories overall, cravings are reduced and metabolic rate is increased. This is a great combination for health and wellness.
Protein also helps to slow the digestion of carbohydrate in the meal, which assists in maintaining steady blood glucose levels. This, as well, allows for stable appetite and fewer cravings throughout the day.
If you're looking for a smarter way to build muscle, lose weight or increase your metabolism, consider any of our casein or whey protein products or contact us for more information!