The benefits of eating protein seem endless! Sure, we all love carbs and they are essential for us to look, feel, and perform our best. But ensuring that your body is getting enough lean protein is not always easy. We need to be intentional about getting enough and making sure it’s the right kind.
Protein takes time for your body to break down and digest. This will make you feel fuller longer! When the body is working hard at digesting protein, you are using energy to do so. That energy you are putting out is also repairing muscle tissue and burning fat. Muscle is a very hungry tissue within your body and supplying it with the proper amount of lean protein is key in revving up your metabolism.
Protein is thermogenic. Yes, you will burn calories by eating protein!
Protein is made of amino acids. Protein’s functions are to:
– Help repair body cells
– Help make enzymes
– Providing energy when carbohydrates and fats have run out
– Help build the body
– Transport mediums (such as haemoglobin transporting oxygen)
– Storage molecules (iron is stored in the liver as a protein)
Protein helps to maintain blood sugar balance in the body. By maintaining balance, you are avoiding weight gain. One tool for ensuring you are getting the nutrients your body needs and avoiding blood sugar spikes is to eat a lean protein with every complex carbohydrate. For example, if you were to eat an apple as an afternoon snack, think about pairing it with a hard-boiled egg, natural nut butter, or low-fat dairy item such as a greek yogurt. (Your body can only digest about 20 grams of protein at a time so beware as not to over serve yourself.)
One serving size of lean protein is roughly about the size of your palm. Use a finger to trace out the size of your palm and then note how much a serving should be. If you forget, you now always have this system with you!
Protein can also strengthen the immune system, and it encourages proper hormone and enzyme production. It also balances fluids in the body.
If you do not eat animal products, there are still many ways to get in all of your lean protein foods and reap the many benefits of becoming lean and healthy by eating your protein. Quinoa is gluten-free and a superior plant-based protein source. 1 cup cooked equals 8 grams of protein. It has all 9 essential amino acids making it a fine choice for contentious eaters.
Seek out high protein vegetables such as Spirulina, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and asparagus – all have around 3 grams of protein per serving. It should be noted that these are not complete proteins, but paring them with other lean protein choices will ensure you are getting enough!
Protein powders can be used as a great tool for supplementing. However, I believe that not all powders are created equal. Many of these powders contain sugar and ingredients we cannot even pronounce. If that is the case, I advise you to stay away! However, there are other options out there. I personally use a brown rice protein powder, while there are other options such as soy, pea, hemp, and even egg white.
What are some good lean protein choices?
– Chicken breast
– Fish (canned tuna or salmon if you are in a hurry!)
– Soy /edamame (beware of soy as it is very controversial in the way it can benefit or deter your health.)
– Eggs and egg whites,
– Nuts and seeds (try not to eat over a serving size!)
– Low-fat dairy products
– Beans are high in protein and fiber, but are also very starchy. If you are looking to lose those last couple of pounds, do not supplement these as your main protein source.
– High protein grains include oatmeal and quinoa
If you are a numbers type of person, you may wonder how much protein you should be eating in a day. Protein requirements for adults are the same for each gender. Livestrong.com states:
Adults require 0.80 g of protein for each kilogram of body weight. Between 10 percent and 35 percent of the total calories consumed per day should come from protein. This range is large due to the differences in body weight, activity level and the calories consumed. To put these recommended amounts in perspective, an adult of 150 lbs. should have 54 g of protein a day .
“Does the Body Use Up More Calories Digesting Protein and Fiber?” LIVESTRONG.COM. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2013.
“How Much Protein Should You Have Per Day?” LIVESTRONG.COM. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2013.
Reno, Tosca. The Eat-clean Diet Stripped: Peel off Those Last 10 Pounds. Mississauga, Ont.: R. Kennedy Pub., 2011. Print.
“What Are the Benefits of Eating Lean Proteins?” LIVESTRONG.COM. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2013.