Five fantastic health benefits of protein
When it comes to our overall health, fitness, and general well-being, you’re all probably well aware that the foods and drinks we consume on a daily basis both play pivotal roles in determining just how fit and healthy we actually are. In order to enjoy optimal levels of health and fitness we need to ensure that we get plenty of physical activity, and that we follow an eating plan which incorporates fresh, healthy, and nutritious foods into our diets. As far as healthy foods are concerned, most people immediately think of fresh fruits and vegetables due to the fact that they’re jam-packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients on top of that. Whilst fresh fruits and vegetables are indeed very good for us, we also need to incorporate plenty of other different food sources into our diets, including protein. Protein is absolutely essential for the growth and repair of cells within our bodies and it offers us a whole variety of other health related benefits as well. Found in fresh meat, seafood, dairy produce, nuts, seeds, certain vegetables and protein powders it is incredibly beneficial and for that reason we’ll now take a look at just five of the many health benefits associated with protein.
Increased bone density and health – One great health benefit associated with protein and following a high protein diet is the fact that protein has been proven to increase bone density and bone health, helping to protect against diseases and conditions such as osteoporosis or arthritis. The reason why protein has been found to increase bone density and bone health is because protein is made up of amino acids and it is these amino acids that are used by the body to help build bone. As well as this, protein has also been found to help regulate a hormone known as IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor) which is a proven regulator of bone metabolism in the human body.
Increased brain function – When people talk about brain foods the foods they’re talking about are all packed full of protein, or even simply protein powders of some sort. The reason why protein has been heavily linked with increased brain function is the fact that the protein is actually able to provide the necessary building blocks required to create chemical messages by the brain. Messages such as hunger, energy production, memory, reaction time, and many more are all the result of messages sent from the brain to other receptors in the body and in order to create these messages, the brain requires protein.
Improved quality of sleep – Studies have also found that individuals that consume high protein diets are far more likely to get to sleep much faster and to wake up less frequently during the night. Not only that, but the quality of the sleep is also often improved, leaving the individual waking up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the next day. The reason for this is that protein has been found to optimise chemical transmitter balances, meaning that hormones and chemicals responsible for keeping us energised and alert are regulated in just the right amounts during the day, and hormones responsible for making us feel tired and sleepy, serotonin for example, are regulated and released in just the right amounts during the evening.
Improved muscle mass and gain – When people think of protein, they generally think of protein shakes and bodybuilders working out in the gym in order to pack on the lean muscle in a bid to improve their physiques. When it comes to building muscle, protein is without a shadow of a doubt, the most important nutrient that a person could ever wish for. The reason for this is that protein is absolutely essential for the growth and repair of muscle tissue. When we lift weights in the gym, we aren’t building muscle at all, we’re actually destroying muscle, or rather the tiny fibres that make up the muscle. We grow and gain weight in the form of lean muscle whilst we rest, especially during the night. The reason for this is that whilst we rest, the body re-builds the damaged muscle tissues and fibres, and builds them up even bigger and stronger than they were previously. In order to do that however, it has to synthesise new muscle tissue via protein synthesis and in order to do that, it requires adequate amounts of protein. A person looking to build muscle should consume at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, which means that a 200lb person should consume at least 200 grams of protein per day, which is why protein powders are so beneficial.
Improved fat loss – As well as helping to build muscle and gain weight, protein can also help to lose weight by burning fat. There are several reasons why high protein diets have been proven to help to dramatically burn away body fat, with the most common reasons being the following: Firstly, protein actually helps to reduce hunger and appetite, which means the less hungry you are, the less food you will eat and the less calories you will consume. The second reason why protein is so effective at burning fat is the fact that it dramatically increases our metabolisms. The metabolism is responsible for taking calories and body fat and converting them into glucose which is used as energy. The faster the metabolism, the more calories and fat you will burn, and the more energy you will enjoy. Protein is thermogenic, which means that the body struggles to digest and break it down, meaning it has to work harder. As it works harder, more energy is required and so the metabolism is forced to speed up and burn more calories/fat.