The Low Down on Protein
1. Protein is essential for muscle development as well as being a source of 22 amino acids which are necessary for the production of enzymes and hormones in the body.
2. How much protein you do need every day?
The Institute of Medicine of the National Institute of Science has concluded that daily protein intake should be 10-35% of our total calorie intake. Men need more protein than women. So, if you are dieting, then forget the lettuce leaf and celery stick diets! Get your daily protein intake!
3. Protein has a major impact on our level of hunger. If you don't get enough protein in a meal, you will be hungry again soon; even if it contained thousands of calories. Did you realize that the number one reason people failed at dieting was because they got hungry? Makes sense really. If you are hungry, then you are more likely to eat the first snack you come across which is likely to be one of those high calorie junk food items! If you maintain good protein intake during the day, you just won't feel hungry and are less likely to cheat!
4. Muscle Mass. By increasing the protein levels in your diet, you are also helping to build muscle mass which in turn raises your "resting metabolic rate" - that is the number of calories your body burns even when you are sleeping. This helps the Calories Eaten vs. Calories burnt ratio without increasing your exercise! So you can either eat more calories during the day and still maintain your weight, or it can help burn fat so you lose weight faster if you are dieting.
5. Good Protein vs Bad Protein? Protein from animal sources (meats, dairy, eggs) typically contains high levels of saturated fats which are both high in calories as well as being the "bad fats". Eating white meat (poultry, not pork) and deep sea oily fish are good, but by far the "best" are the vegetable proteins. The most plentiful and probably the best is Soy protein.
5. A Balanced Diet
Completely removing non-protein foods from your diet is not good either; you do need to eat a balanced diet that contains all the other nutrients your body needs. For weight loss (fat burning), you should be eating a daily calorie intake approx 500 calories less than your RMR (Resting Metabolic rate). Have a Colorful meal containing fruit and vegetables from all the "color groups" except White. White foods are typically the high energy starchy foods like wheat flour, rice, pasta, corn etc. Make sure you have enough whole grains, and nuts as well. An important note is that simply adding Cocoa powder to a White food - like wheat flour, to make it chocolate colored and flavored does NOT mean it is safe to eat!
6. Don't over do it!
There is some evidence amongst athletes that having too much animal based protein can cause problems in people pre-disposed to certain medical conditions relating to kidney and liver function. Typical commercial bodybuilding protein supplements are 90%+ whey based. Another reason to concentrate on protein supplement systems that are primarily soy based!