Protein is an absolutely vital part of our diet, keeping our bodies and minds strong, healthy and properly functioning. Not only is it essential to our overall health, but it as a key component in helping build and maintain muscle mass and health.
What are the benefits of protein?
As well as helping the body get the nutrients it needs, protein has multiple health benefits. It:
- Keeps your brain functioning normally: it makes the enzymes, hormones and neurotransmitters necessary for correct cognitive function.
- Balances your mood, preventing irritability and moodiness: it keeps your hormones balanced, synthesising ‘happy hormones’ such as dopamine and serotonin.
- Aids concentration, focus and energy: it supplies the amino acids vital for this.
- Builds healthy bones: it assists with healing broken bones, preventing weakness, fracture and osteoporosis.
- Slows down the aging process: it keeps muscle mass intact, supports strong bones, and helps brain and immunity function.
What are protein rich food sources?
While our bodies can make some amino acids (called ‘non essential’) it needs other amino acids (called ‘conditionally non essential’ or ‘essential’ amino acids), from protein rich foods. Protein rich sources include:
- Black beans
- Brown Rice
- Leafy greens
While the amount of protein you need will depend on your age, sex and lifestyle, a basic rule of thumb to follow is to make sure about 30 percent of your plate at every meal is a high-quality source of protein.
How does protein help with building muscle?
In addition to the above, protein is KEY to helping you build and maintain muscle mass.
How it works:
- When you lift weights or exercise your muscles, you damage the muscle tissue. It is when our body repairs the muscles, that they become bigger and stronger.
- In order to repair the muscle effectively, your body needs protein.
- Without adequate protein, your body cannot repair the muscle, and no gains will be made.
- If you do not eat adequate protein, your body will simply begin to break down muscle fibres in order to meet its energy needs.
Not only does protein help with muscle growth, but a high-protein diet can help you lose weight effectively.
- It makes you feel fuller for longer as it slows down digestion. This prevents overeating and excessive snacking.
- When paired with carbohydrates, protein slows down your body’s absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This prevents blood sugar spikes, balancing out your energy levels and keeping your mood and appetite in control.
- It requires a higher amount of energy to digest (a process called thermogenesis), so you burn more calories just by digesting protein.