Protein—the king of macros—can do wonders for your physique, and you’re about to learn why.
Get ready, we’re going to break down everything you need to know about protein and why it’s crucial for your weight loss. We’ll also talk about protein’s health benefits, why your body can’t live without it, and how to eat it the right way.
Is your notebook ready? Let’s get right into it…
When you hear the word protein, does chicken breast come to mind? Animal products, like chicken breast, tend to be high in protein because it forms the building blocks of animals’ bodies just like it does in ours.
Proteins are large, complex molecules that play many critical roles in the body. They are made up of hundreds of thousands of smaller units called amino acids. Amino acids attach to one another and form long chains. The sequence and type of amino acids that combine determine how the protein functions and its benefits to our bodies.
For example, some proteins are antibodies that bind to foreign particles, like viruses and bacteria, to help protect our bodies from sickness. Some proteins act as messengers that signal our bodies to complete an important biological process. Many proteins in our bodies are structural, providing support for cells and allowing the body to move.
While there are more than one hundred different structural proteins in our bodies, the most abundant by far is collagen, which makes up about 6% of our total body weight. Collagen also makes up 30% of our bone tissue and comprises large amounts of our tendons, ligaments, cartilage, skin, and muscle.
Ever heard the term “essential amino acids?” This term reminds us that it’s essential we receive certain amino acids through our diets.
There are only 20 amino acids that make up all the proteins we have in our bodies. Our bodies produce 11 of these amino acids, even if we do not get them from the food we eat. The remaining 9 (which we call “essential amino acids”) we can only get from food.
When a food contains all nine of these essential amino acids, we call it a “complete protein.” Nuts, seeds, whole grains, and beans contain incomplete proteins, which our bodies can use to piece together the amino acids it needs. Other foods already come as a complete package, with all nine essential amino acids, like:
Proteins are found in every part of your body tissue—they make you what you are and keep you that way.
The current Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein tells us the minimum amount of protein we need every day to prevent lean body mass loss—this number is often misunderstood as the recommended optimal daily intake.
For your body to function at its best, protein needs to make up 20-30% of your daily food intake, a much higher number than the RDA.
So what happens if your diet is starving your body of needed protein, and can you go overboard in your protein consumption?
Not enough protein in your diet results in…
Too much protein in your diet results in…
Your body weight is directly affected by the adequacy and quality of the protein in your daily diet. Protein is an amazing teammate when you’re working to lose or maintain a healthy weight for four main reasons:
Here are four practical tips that will help you increase protein in your diet and maximize its fitness benefits today.
By now, you know that protein is important and how to start boosting your protein intake today.
Is that the end of your fitness journey, then? Not quite.
A healthy lifestyle includes reaching optimum amounts of all your macronutrients with nutritious whole foods, living a balanced lifestyle, drinking enough water, and exercising regularly.
It can feel like a lot to figure out—especially when you have a job to do and kids to raise. That’s why each week I send out quick tips in my newsletter that can help you make simple healthy changes in your lifestyle.
Or if you’re ready to jump into your health journey with both feet, sign up for a LEAN Session today.