Why Protein is So Important for Fitness and Health

No matter what weight loss program you’re trying to follow, you will almost always hear a cry for protein somewhere in the plan. Whether the suggestion is for high or moderate amounts, protein is a major building block for long-term weight loss and living a long, healthy life. But why? What is it about protein that has everyone jumping on the wagon? 

Protein is part of every cell in your body and your muscles, bones, organs and tissue need protein to stay strong and healthy.  Here are just a few ways that protein makes your body better!

Say bye-bye to hunger pangs – Although carbohydrates and healthy fats are important components of a healthy diet, protein is the absolute winner for keeping you feeling fuller for longer. In fact, studies have shown that increasing your protein intake by just 15% can lead to a reduction of nearly 450 calories in your daily calorie consumption. Multiply that by seven days, and you’ve created a calorie deficit big enough to almost lose a pound!

Burn baby burn – Although eating in general boosts your metabolism briefly, not all foods have the same impact. Eating protein requires a 20-35% thermic calorie burn just to digest (compared to 10-15% for carbohydrates). So what does that mean? It means that just by eating a moderate to high protein meal, you could be burning an extra 100 calories without even trying. 

Luscious locks – Want long, strong and beautiful hair? Better up your protein intake!  Including an adequate amount of protein in your diet will not only make hair stronger and more resistant to breakage, it can also help prevent hair loss.

Lower your numbers – Following a moderate to high protein diet has been shown to lower blood pressure by nearly two points. A higher protein diet has also been linked to a reduction in bad cholesterol and triglycerides. 

Strengthen your bones – Calcium isn’t the only builder of strong bones! Studies have shown that following a moderate to high protein diet increases bone mass and reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis, especially in women and aging adults. 

So how much protein is enough? This really depends on your goals and your workouts. Extremely overweight people don’t need as much as a leaner individuals or one who is interested in building muscle.

When it comes to the best sources of protein, lean is the way to go. Some of my favorite protein go-to’s include:

  • Fish
  • Skinless chicken breast
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Low fat cottage cheese
  • Lean cuts of steak such as sirloin tip side
  • Beans and lentils (if you are vegetarian – keep in mind these contain a bit more carbs as well)
  • Egg whites

In a pinch for time? There are some great protein shakes and meal replacement bars out there. Just make sure you watch the excess fats that some contain. 

So if you’re searching for the perfect way to perk up your meal plans and get your metabolism really moving, protein is a great way to start. Looking for some new, high-protein twists on your favorite meals and snacks? Check out these recipes https://pancakesandpushups.com/?s=protein.