Maximizing Health With Proper Protein Intake

Maximizing Health With Proper Protein Intake

High-protein diets are known to promote weight loss and muscle growth. Clearly, this macronutrient is fundamental to a healthy nutrition plan. Then again, we are sure all these claims sound conflicting if you’re just starting to dabble in these waters.

Your mind probably ponders the following: what is the daily recommended protein intake, and what are the best sources of this essential nutrient? Worry not, as our team of experts has come to your rescue. The text below reveals the answers to those questions and more. 

Protein in a Nutshell

These large biomolecules and macromolecules provide the body with essential nutrients to remain healthy and survive. Protein is composed of essential amino acids that make up our bodies’ bones, enzymes, hormones, blood, cartilage, and muscles. 

However, it cannot biosynthesize enough on its own. Namely, our body can only generate some nonessential amino acids, but since it needs nine different types for normal functioning, the rest comes from food. 

Protein-Rich Food

Protein is derived from plants or animals, and it is best to combine the two sources if you want to have a well-balanced diet and get enough protein intake. 

Animal Protein

The complete protein comes from animals — namely, meat, eggs, and dairy products. If you opt for meat, consider lean meats, such as turkey, beef, and chicken, as they are also rich in zinc and iron. To avoid saturated fats, go for skinless chicken breasts or ground beef.

Maximizing Health With Proper Protein Intake

Meanwhile, fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring) contain plenty of protein and are an amazing source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Believe it or not, eggs are loaded with antioxidants, healthy fats, and complete protein, providing all the essential amino acids. Dairy (e.g., milk, yogurt, cheese) is also high in protein and nutrients such as calcium. It is always best to choose low-fat dairy products. 

Plant Proteins

Nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, and nuts are all sources of plant-based proteins. However, they do not contain all the essential amino acids, so they should be combined with meat.

Not all vegetables are the same in terms of protein content. For instance, spinach and kale contain small amounts of it. Different types of beans, quinoa, soybeans, chickpeas, and peas are much better alternatives. They are rich in folate, zinc, fiber, and potassium and contain up to eight grams of protein. 

The same is true for nuts and seeds, which are packed with protein, healthy fats, minerals, and vitamins. But don’t forget to consume them in small portions. 

Finally, tofu and tempeh are other protein-rich plant-based foods. Vegans and vegetarians prefer them because they deliver seven grams of protein per quarter cup. 

How Much Protein Should I Eat?

The recommended protein intake for individuals over the age of 18 is 0.36 grams per pound (0.8 grams per kilogram). If someone weighs 176 pounds (80 kg), that would be around 64 grams of protein.

Keep in mind that your daily protein needs vary based on your age, gender, and physical activity. Protein intake can also be affected by personal aspirations and life-changing circumstances like pregnancy. 

The optimal protein intake per meal for non-dieting adults is 25–30 grams. If you are constantly snacking, incorporate 5–10 grams of protein in your treats. To maintain healthy muscle mass and improve your health, stick to 0.54 –0.7 grams of protein per pound (1.2–1.6 per kg). For maximum resistance training results, athletes require between 0.6 and 1.0 grams per pound (1.6–2.2 per kg) daily. 

Many argue that overconsumption of protein is impossible. Protein-rich diets may cause a nutritional imbalance, as they lack other important nutrients. Moreover, consuming protein without physical activity will result in gaining weight rather than losing it.

Finally, some believe that excessive protein consumption poses a risk to people with pre-existing kidney issues. 

Health Benefits of Protein

Increased protein intake is often associated with muscle gain. Though this is true, protein-rich foods also offer other health benefits and are scientifically proven to be beneficial. Here are some of them.

Controls Hunger and Cravings

Certain studies indicate that protein ranks among the most filling macronutrients. It increases your satiety hormones, such as peptide YY and cholecystokinin, while suppressing the hunger hormone ghrelin.

Consuming the recommended dose of protein per day can also affect the hunger hormone ghrelin and reduce cravings and late-night snacking by 60%. In other words, protein promotes lower calorie consumption, which is excellent news for those who want to lose belly fat and shed some weight. 

Enhances Muscle Mass

It’s well-known that protein is the main structural component and building block of your muscles. Combined with strength training, sufficient protein helps you maintain muscle and promote muscular development. Conversely, it can prevent muscle loss if you are on a diet.

Maximizing Health With Proper Protein Intake

Lowers Blood Pressure

There is no doubt that high blood pressure increases the risk of stroke and heart attack. Protein consumption lowers both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, thereby reducing hypertension. Further, certain protein-rich foods are known to lower triglycerides and bad cholesterol (LDL). 

Promotes Bone Health

Long-term studies have shown that protein has beneficial effects on bones, which is contrary to popular belief that it depletes calcium from them. Eating enough animal protein promotes bone health and helps you ward off osteoporosis as you age. 

Boosts Metabolism

There are different ways in which foods boost metabolism. Our bodies must digest and take the nutrients from the food consumed; however, each macronutrient has a different thermic effect of food (TEF). 

For instance, proteins contain 20%–35% TEF, compared to carbs and fats, with only 5%–15%. This means that protein burns more calories during digestion than carbs and fat and can amount to 80–100 more calories per day. 

Helps With Weight Loss

Aside from boosting your metabolism, protein helps reduce calorie intake, cravings, and spontaneous weight loss. Sticking to a recommended daily protein intake while dieting will help preserve muscle mass and increase satiety. One study found that 19 overweight women who didn't diet and consumed 30% of their calories from protein for 12 weeks lost 11 pounds (5 kilograms). 

Additionally, consuming protein in the long run will help you maintain weight. 

Recovers the Body Post-Injury

Protein is a primary building block of organs and tissues, helping the body recuperate faster after an injury. Two grams per kilogram daily has been shown to increase body protein synthesis, resulting in significant healing.

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It is paramount you incorporate enough protein in your meal plan. A high-protein diet regulates hypertension, improves satiety signals, maintains muscle mass, and supports weight management. Therefore, try to integrate a well-sized source of protein in every meal, either from meat or plants. 

Consult a dietitian if you are unsure about your protein needs. As a way of satisfying your protein intake, medical professionals can provide a high-protein nutrition plan and recipes.