What Does Protein Help With

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What Is The Minimum Amount Of Protein Your Body Needs

How Does Protein Build Muscle?

The minimum daily requirement for most adults is somewhere in the range of 0.8 to 1.0 grams of dietary protein per kilogram of bodyweight or at least 10% of your daily calories . However, your need can increase with age, increased exercise, and injury.

Most people eat well beyond this range, with the average American consuming about 16% of their calories from protein daily .

Some argue this amount of protein is still too low to reap the potential benefits of this nutrient and we should instead be striving for closer to 30% of our calories from protein or roughly 1.0 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram body weight . This still falls well within the range of 10% to 35% of your daily calories suggested by the US Dietary Guidelines.

Of course, eating protein amounts well beyond the recommended ranges for extended periods of time is likely not doing you any good and could cause you to miss out on other important nutrients in your diet.

The quality of your calories also matters. Protein is found in a number of foods, both nutritious and less healthy options. Diets loaded with high-fat animal foods , might be high protein, but they can also pack large amounts of saturated fat that may contribute to increased risk factors for heart disease.

If you are looking to increase your intake, opt for quality high protein foods that improve your nutrition overall.

Calculate your exact daily protein needs using this simple protein calculator:

Do Protein Shakes Work Muscle Gain And Weight Loss

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People drink protein shakes for multiple reasons, including muscle gain, weight loss, and injury recovery.

While many foods provide you with a lot of protein such as eggs, meat, poultry, milk, and legumes protein shakes and powders have become a popular, high-quality source of this nutrient.

If you wonder whether these shakes will give you the results you want, youre not alone.

This article focuses on the effectiveness of protein shakes for muscle gain and weight loss.

In this case, protein shakes provide amino acids, also known as the building blocks of proteins.

Dietary supplements come in many forms, from powders to capsules to liquids. While you may find ready-to-drink protein shakes in liquid form, you can also purchase protein supplements in powder form.

Many types of powdered protein supplements are available from either animal- or plant-based sources.

For instance, the most popular animal-based protein powders are whey and casein, both usually derived from cows milk. However, if you have a milk allergy, egg white protein may be a suitable choice.

As for popular plant-based proteins, you can take your pick from soy, pea, hemp, or rice protein.

Lastly, as their name implies, dietary supplements are meant to help you complete or enhance your diet.

Types Of Food With Protein

Generally speaking, foods that are high in protein include lean meat, poultry, and fish. An appropriate serving of these foods is about 3 ounces, which is approximately the size and thickness of a deck of cards.

For those who are vegetarian or vegan, dont worry. Protein isnt only found in meat. You can also get the amount of protein that helps with healing from eggs, dairy, soy products, beans, nuts, and seeds.

If you really want more protein in your diet, here are some additional suggestions:

  • Add powdered milk to other foods.
  • Add powdered protein to fruit smoothies and cooked cereal like oatmeal.
  • Add beans to soup and chili.
  • Add nuts, seeds, or wheat germ to yogurt.
  • Spread peanut butter onto a banana.
  • Mix cottage cheese into noodle dishes or casseroles.
  • Sprinkle hard-boiled eggs on a salad.
  • Grate cheese over vegetables and soups.

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Protein And Food Allergies

According to Food Allergy Research and Education, food allergies happen when the bodys immune system attacks certain food proteins. Your body will fight back by making its own proteins, called IgE antibodies, or immunoglobulin E. If you have an allergy to a certain protein, the next time you eat or drink something containing that protein, youll experience an allergic reaction, such as itchiness or trouble breathing.

Many of the most common food allergies are associated with foods that are high in protein, such as eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and fish.

When Does The Body Use Protein As An Energy Source

HOW PROTEIN INTAKE HELP WITH FAT LOSS

Protein can be metabolized and used as an energy source for the body, but its not the preferred source of energy.

Our bodies are all about efficiency, and carbohydrates are our primary source of food energy because theyre fast-acting and can be easily broken down into usable glucose.

Only a small amount of carbohydrates can be stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen, a form of glucose stored for energy. So, in the absence of enough carbs, our bodys next preferred energy source is fats.

Fats are more energy-rich than carbs, but they take longer and are more difficult for the body to convert to usable energy. This explains why you might feel like you hit a wall 60-90 minutes into a tough workout when your glycogen stores become depleted.

Under ordinary circumstances, our bodies only use protein for a small amount of daily energy. Protein is meant for growth and repair and cannot be stored away like fat and glycogen. In some situations, such as when we eat too few calories, restrict carbohydrates, or during later stages of endurance exercise, muscle is broken down into amino acids and converted to glucose that can be used as fuel for the body and brain.

At a certain point, trying to decrease body fat by restricting calories or increasing exercise also means sacrificing some muscle as the body works to keep glucose at a healthy level.

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Protein Changes The Levels Of Several Weight Regulating Hormones

Your weight is actively regulated by your brain, particularly an area called the hypothalamus .

In order for your brain to determine when and how much to eat, it processes multiple different types of information.

Some of the most important signals to the brain are hormones that change in response to feeding .

A higher protein intake actually increases levels of the satiety hormones GLP-1, peptide YY and cholecystokinin, while reducing your levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin .

This leads to a major reduction in hunger and is the main reason protein helps you lose weight. It can make you eat fewer calories automatically.

Bottom Line:

Protein reduces levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, while it boosts the appetite-reducing hormones GLP-1, peptide YY and cholecystokinin. This leads to an automatic reduction in calorie intake.

What Happens If You Eat Too Much Protein

There is insufficient evidence to establish a threshold for protein intake and EFSA have stated that a protein intake of twice the DRV is still considered safe under normal conditions.1For individuals with kidney disease excessive protein can be an issue and these individuals should consult a registered dietitian or general practitioner before increasing protein levels.

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What Are Proteins Made Of

Proteins are made of amino acids connected in long chains. These compounds help key players in your body systems work, such as the T cells, B cells, and antibodies as germ fighters.

It is a macronutrient. Meaning you need lots of it to be healthy. Protein plays a role in many bodily processes.

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Helps Build Muscle Mass

It helps build and maintain muscle mass and strength. When your metabolism works efficiently, more muscles are formed. At age 40, you may experience loss of muscle mass and strength which requires eating protein more and reducing calorie intake.

Image credit: Pexels

Remember:

People who exercise vigorously to gain skeletal muscle mass do not need extra protein. High protein diets do not cause muscle mass. The stimulation of muscle tissue causes muscle mass through exercise, which leads to muscle growth, not extra dietary protein.

Staying physically active is essential, including working out in gyms or engaging in resistance exercise.

To help prevent losing muscle mass, known as sarcopenia, you need more protein to gain muscle. Some who have a hard time taking in more protein resort to dietary protein thats fine as long as its not too much. Very high protein diets are dangerous.

DO YOU KNOW THAT

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that a large single dose of 25 g of protein after exercise could increase muscle protein synthesis.

This finding could explain why protein shakes are often associated with those who work out, body builders, and gym rats.

Protein Shakes Powders And Supplements

Protein shakes, powders and supplements are unnecessary for most Australians health needs. According to the most recent national nutrition survey, 99% of Australians get enough protein through the food they eat.

Any protein you eat on top of what your body needs will either be excreted from your body as waste, or stored as weight gain.

The best way for you to get the protein you need is to eat a wide variety of protein-rich foods as outlined in the Australian Dietary Guidelines, as part of a balanced diet. But if you are still interested in using protein shakes, powders and supplements, talk to your doctor.

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Whey Protein Promotes Muscle Growth

Muscle mass naturally declines with age.

This usually leads to fat gain and raises the risk of many chronic diseases.

However, this adverse change in body composition can be partly slowed, prevented, or reversed with a combination of strength training and adequate diet.

Strength training, coupled with the consumption of high protein foods or protein supplements, has been shown to be an effective preventive strategy .

Particularly effective are high quality protein sources, such as whey.

Whey is rich in a branched-chain amino acid called leucine. Leucine is the most growth-promoting of the amino acids .

For this reason, whey protein is effective for the prevention of age-related muscle loss, as well as for improved strength .

For muscle growth, some studies show that whey protein may be slightly better than other types of protein, such as casein or soy (

16 ).

A limited number of human studies have investigated the effect of whey proteins on blood pressure, and many experts consider the evidence to be inconclusive.

One study in overweight individuals showed that whey protein supplementation, 54 g/day for 12 weeks, lowered systolic blood pressure by 4%. Other milk proteins had similar effects .

This is supported by another study that found significant effects when participants were given whey protein concentrate for 6 weeks.

However, blood pressure decreased only in those that had high or slightly elevated blood pressure to begin with .

How You Should Space Out Your Protein Intake

7 Sources of Protein That Will Help Muscle Gain And Health

When you eat your protein is just as important as how much you eat. Its not about simply loading up after exercising or at one meal and skimping on it for the rest of the day. Like we mentioned, the body doesnt have a protein holding tank like it does for carbs, where it can siphon away extras for quick access when we need it.

Thats why the best way to get your protein is split up throughout the day. Eating a good amount of protein at different points in the day helps your body direct protein where its needed, when its needednot to mention, keeps you feeling satisfied and energized. So take a look at your daily amount , and see how you can break that up in your various meals throughout the day.

Spacing out protein intake is also super important for active individuals. Thats because muscle repair and growth are greater when you consume adequate protein at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Dr. Linsenmeyer explains. Yes, protein is vital after a workout, Yasi Ansari, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and assistant director of Performance Nutrition for UC Berkeley Athletics, has previously told SELF. But it is important for people to know that more is not necessarily better.

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How Protein Helps Healing Wounds

Protein is like that person at your job who seems to be in 10 places at once, doing 10 different things.

It makes enzymes, hormone and other body chemicals, and serves as vital building blocks for your blood, skin, bones, muscles and cartilage.

Your body also uses protein to build and repair tissue, which is why it plays a major role in healing wounds. People with acute or chronic wounds need extra protein to ensure their wounds heal completely, and in a timely manner.

Reduces Cravings And Desire For Late

A food craving is different from normal hunger.

It is not just about your body needing energy or nutrients but your brain needing a reward .

Yet, cravings can be incredibly hard to control. The best way to overcome them may be to prevent them from occurring in the first place.

One of the best prevention methods is to increase your protein intake.

One study in overweight men showed that increasing protein to 25% of calories reduced cravings by 60% and the desire to snack at night by half .

Likewise, a study in overweight adolescent girls found that eating a high-protein breakfast reduced cravings and late-night snacking.

This may be mediated by an improvement in the function of dopamine, one of the main brain hormones involved in cravings and addiction (

more protein may reduce cravings and desire for late-night snacking. Merely having a high-protein breakfast may have a powerful effect.

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Whey Protein May Help Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is part of the bodys response to damage. Short-term inflammation can be beneficial, but under certain circumstances it may become chronic.

Chronic inflammation can be harmful, and it is a risk factor for many diseases. It may reflect underlying health conditions or lifestyle habits that hurt your health.

A large review study found that high doses of whey protein supplements significantly reduced C-reactive protein , a key marker of inflammation in the body .

Summary

High doses of whey protein have been shown to reduce blood levels of C-reactive protein, indicating that it can help reduce inflammation.

Whey Protein May Enhance The Bodys Antioxidant Defenses

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Antioxidants are substances that act against oxidation in the body. This means they reduce oxidative stress and lower the risk of various chronic diseases.

One of the most important antioxidants in humans is glutathione. Unlike most antioxidants, which you get from your diet, glutathione is produced by your body.

In the body, glutathione production depends on the supply of several amino acids, such as cysteine, which is sometimes of limited supply.

For this reason, high cysteine foods, such as whey protein, may boost the bodys natural antioxidant defenses (

Summary

Whey protein supplementation may strengthen the bodys antioxidant defenses by promoting the formation of glutathione, one of the bodys main antioxidants.

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Whey Protein Is Highly Satiating Which May Help Reduce Hunger

Satiety is a term used to describe the feeling of fullness we experience after eating a meal. It is the opposite of appetite and hunger, and it should suppress cravings for food and the desire to eat.

Some foods are more satiating than others, an effect which partly depends on their macronutrient composition.

Protein is by far the most filling of the three macronutrients .

However, not all proteins have the same effect on satiety. Whey protein appears to be more satiating than other types of protein, such as casein and soy (

Summary

Eating plenty of protein is a very effective way to lose weight, and some studies show that whey protein may have even greater effects than other types of protein.

Can You Get Too Much Protein

A high-protein diet has clear benefits, but can too much harm your health? Yes, and the cost could be a higher risk of cancer, higher cholesterol, kidney stones, weight gain, and constipation. But many of these potential effects depend on the type of protein youâre getting and your overall diet. Ask your doctor or nutritionist whatâs best for you.

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Protein Deficiency Can Lead To Malnutrition

Protein deficiency can lead to malnutrition, such as kwashiorkor and marasmus. Both of these conditions are life-threatening.

This protein deficiency happens if a person has a health condition such as an eating disorder like anorexia nervosa.

An energy deficit due to the deficiencies of many micronutrients is called Protein-energy undernutrition . This condition can be sudden caused by total starvation or gradual.

What Happens When You Get Too Much Protein

What is Protein anyway?

Although protein is generally healthy, its possible to overdo it. Many people pay attention to the benefits of protein and figure theres no harm in stocking up. The problem is that the body doesnt know what to do with the excess amounts of protein, and it could end up harming the bones, kidneys, and liver, according to a previous review.

Experts say that for most people, a high-protein meal with about 40 g of protein doesnt benefit the body any more than one with 15 to 25 g of protein would, so theres no upside to going overboard.

There are, on the other hand, a few potential downsides. The aforementioned review notes that too much protein can lead to:

  • Too much calcium in the bloodstream
  • Liver complications

Meat-heavy diets , such as the carnivore diet, can also be dangerous and increase ones risk of developing coronary heart disease and cancer, particularly breast, bowel, and prostate cancers, according to the same review mentioned earlier.

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