Why Do I Actually Need Protein?
Everyone’s told you how important protein is, even your grandmother. But why is this macronutrient so valuable to us? In this 3 part series we give you the lowdown on what protein is and why you need it.
High-protein, low-carb diets have been in vogue for decades. Body builders are buying up protein as though it’s about to be rationed, while vegetarians have to fend off the “so, where do you get your protein from?” question on a daily basis. We are literally a culture that’s obsessed with protein. How come?
There are three macronutrients:
There is plenty to get excited about when it comes to protein in particular, an essential nutrient that exists in every single cell in your body. Some call it the building block of life - and for good reason. You can find protein in your hair and nails, your bones, your muscles and your skin. And when you spill blood, you also - you’ve guessed it - spill protein.
Protein is all over your body and helps to repair tissues, build muscle, as well as make hormones and chemicals. And because it’s one of the three macronutrients, your body needs a lot of it to stay feeling sweet. And because your body also doesn’t store extra protein, it needs regular intake of it.
Here are a few reasons why protein is so important.
Protein Boosts Your Muscle Mass
When it comes to muscle mass, you either want healthy muscle mass, or you want healthy and beefed-up muscle mass. To achieve either, you need to get enough protein into your diet. If you're training it's recommended that you eat between 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day!
If you don’t consume enough protein, your body begins to suffer from amino acid-deficiency. And when this occurs, muscle wasting soon follows.
Muscle wasting - or atrophy as it’s otherwise known - sounds horrible. We associate it with chronic disease. And it is horrible. When it occurs, you find that you’re low on energy because your muscle fibres are too broke down to even try to refuel you.
Physical activity can really take its toll on your muscles, which is why it’s so important to consume protein after you’ve been working out or playing sports. Not consuming it means your muscles may end up taking a lot longer to grow back and repair than you’d ideally like. The faster you recover, the faster you can get back on the bench.
Protein Fills You Up
Vegetarians sometimes point out that fibre, a micronutrient that helps to fill us up for longer, isn’t found in animal products. And they’re correct. But protein is found in animal products like beef, turkey and chicken, and it's amazing at helping you to feel full.
There is a lot of contradictory research and evidence around whether or not there is a link between protein consumption and weight lose. But what’s not up for debate is the fact that protein can fill you up for longer. This is obviously good news for people who are looking to lose weight so be sure to stock up on turkey burgers, not cream eggs.
Protein Gives Your Mood A Boost
Feeling low, moody, or otherwise irritable? It could be that you’re experiencing a hormonal imbalance.
Some people get a bit tetchy when they’re accused of having a hormonal imbalance whenever they’re snappy. But the science doesn’t lie: Hormonal imbalances can make us moody.
Hormonal imbalance is not only real, it’s also really common. In men, hormonal imbalance often occurs as a result of reduced testosterone levels. When your T-levels are down, you feel grumpy and everything annoys you.
But calm down. To remedy your situation, you may just need more protein in your diet.
Protein plays an important role when it comes to our mood. Too little protein can result in low T-levels, which can cause us to get a bit temperamental. But when you get the right amount of it, protein works to help or neuro-transmitters operate properly in a similar way to serotonin and dopamine.
Feeling cranky? Just grab a T-Bone steak!
Protein Looks After Your Bones
All of us, when we reach a certain age, start thinking about our health in years to come. Will we still be healthy and vital when we’re 70? Or will we be stricken by chronic disease, such as diabetes or heart disease?
The thing is that, whenever we think about chronic disease, we often overlook our bones.
“Ah, my bones will be fine!” we cry out proudly. “I drink plenty of milk. I’m good.”
Lots of people drink lots of milk. But why are so many of us still calcium-deficient?
There is more than one way to skin a cat, and looking after your bones means double-downing with protein. And you need to. Osteoporosis - disease which thins your bones - is debilitating and on the rise. 10 million Americans have it, and it greatly reduces the quality of their life.
This is where protein comes in. Together with magnesium and calcium, protein stops your bones from weakening, which reduces your risk of fractures. It also helps with bone metabolism, and can prevent low bone density (a huge risk factor for osteoporosis).
Protein Looks After Your Heart
You love your heart. It’s been beating inside your cage since you were born, and you put all your trust and faith in it to keep on beating for a long time to come.
But the thing is that your heart needs some help. The heart might be the quintessential symbol of love, but it needs some love from YOU to keep performing at its optimum.
You can give it a big massive gift in the form of more protein, which can lower your risk of developing heart disease.
And heart disease - as you know - is pretty damn scary. Approximately 10,000 people die each year from cardiovascular disease in Ireland. It's the most common cause of death in Ireland, accounting for 36% of all deaths!
All in all, protein is important. Don’t sell yourself short by cutting down on it. Boost your intake by eating plenty of beefy, turkey, lentils, chicken, fish, yogurt and eggs.
For all your protein needs head over to the Kerrigans Online store.
Image credits to https://totalshape.com