Fitness buffs have long considered protein as the king of all macronutrients.
Hi, I’m Rachel Eslick with your AgNet West Health Bite and today we’re taking a closer look at protein’s impact on metabolism and weight loss.
A quick review of the three main macronutrients – carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Foods like meat, eggs, dairy, and beans, to name a few, are high in protein.
So what’s the deal with gym bros drinking protein shakes and eating massive quantities of chicken breast? There are three big reasons.
First, working out and lifting weights stresses muscles and causes micro tears in the fiber. Protein contains amino acids which help repair and grow the muscle tissue during recovery.
Second, and this is a big one, having more muscle increases a person’s metabolism. Compared to fat, muscle tissue is more “expensive” to keep on the body. Therefore a person with more lean mass needs to eat more calories overall to maintain their weight than a person with less lean mass. For someone trying to lose body fat, adding muscle to their frame will have a double positive effect because they’ll be more likely to lose excess fat without severely restricting overall calories. More protein is often recommended in a fat loss diet.
Third, there is what’s called a thermic effect of eating food. That means our bodies use a percentage of the calories from our meal just to digest it. Foods that are high in protein have the highest thermic effect, meaning a higher percentage of calories are utilized during digestion. This plays a small role in a person’s overall metabolism, which also includes resting metabolic rate and energy expenditure from exercise and other activity.
So does the importance of protein mean we should only eat protein all day everyday? Of course not.
To function properly, we need plenty of water, fruits and vegetables, fiber, and fat. Additionally, adequate sleep and stress reduction play massive roles in overall good health.
The vast majority of women specifically usually could use a bump in protein. We should get a serving in every meal and ideally a bit from snacks too. High protein foods don’t spike blood sugar like heavily processed carbohydrates, and they satisfy our appetite for longer periods of time.
I recommend to my clients eating real meat as much as possible, and only supplementing with protein bars and shakes when necessary. Yogurt and cottage cheese are also great protein sources. For your individual protein needs, consult a registered dietician.
For AgNet West’s Health Bite, I’m Rachel Eslick. I can help you reach your health and fitness goals with 1:1 and group training. Visit www.reachfit.net.