4 Evidence-Based Reasons To Increase Protein Consumption

4 Evidence-Based Reasons To Increase Protein Consumption

Protein is essential for life, and arguably protein is life itself. For example, DNA is a molecule that contains the information to encode proteins th

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Protein is essential for life, and arguably protein is life itself. For example, DNA is a molecule that contains the information to encode proteins that form the structures of all life; cells, organs, and bones, skeletal muscles etc, are all made from proteins.

In fact, every single working unit in the human body is made of a protein.

So are you consuming enough protein?

In this guide you will learn some of the most important physiological functions of protein in the human body, along with the benefits of consuming more protein.

We will also provide answers to questions such as:

Is whey protein good for you?
How much protein should I eat a day?

Here we go.

1. Protein Increases Muscle Mass and Strength

Skeletal muscle cells are comprised of alternating thick and thin sliding protein filaments (actin & myosin).  It is these sliding filaments that generate tensile capacity and allow skeletal muscles to expand and contract thus enabling the various movement capabilities of the body.

As a result of cellular turnover, that is the body’s constant renewal of itself, maintenance of skeletal muscles requires regular consumption of protein and amino acids, particularly first class protein sources that contain all nine essential amino acids.

Furthermore, during intense and/or unfamiliar exercise, skeletal muscles can become traumatised resulting in non-serious micro-tears that require protein and amino acids to regenerate.

Protein is therefore one of the most significant rate-limiting factors in the maintenance, repair, and growth of skeletal muscle mass.

Question: Is Whey protein good for you?

Yes – whey protein is widely accepted as one of the most nutritious protein sources for human health. This is because whey protein has a number of health benefits including the capacity to strengthen the immune system.

It also scores highest on all protein evaluation methods as a result of its high amino acid content and bioavailability.

With respect to skeletal muscles, whey protein also stimulates a metabolic pathway in the human body known as the mTOR pathway. This pathway triggers muscle protein synthesis that is the process responsible for the growth of skeletal muscle.

According to sports nutrition experts DNA Lean, “…whey protein actually contains various different protein structures and bio-active peptides, known as fractions, which collectively, form your whey protein powder.

Each protein fraction has a different structure, a different amino acid sequence, and therefore the properties of each protein fraction can vary.”.

This gives rise to whey protein having a whole manner of different health benefits.

2. Protein Reduces Appetite and Hunger Levels

Various lines of strong evidence demonstrate protein intake being linked to satiety. Moreover, consuming a sufficient amount of protein supports satiety and curbs hunger, whereas protein insufficiencies are linked to increased appetite and hunger.

This is largely due to how protein affects two important hormones; Leptin and Ghrelin. These two hormones play a major role in the regulation of appetite and energy balance.

In a nutshell, when protein intake is at a sufficient enough level for a given individual, levels of Ghrelin decrease while Leptin increases; subsequently leading to satiety, and in some cases, weight loss.

According to the scientists M D Klok, S Jakobsdottir, and M L Drent, “Leptin is a mediator of long-term regulation of energy balance, suppressing food intake and thereby inducing weight loss. Ghrelin on the other hand is a fast-acting hormone, seemingly playing a role in meal initiation.”

3. Protein supports a strong immune system

It is well-documented that insufficiencies of dietary protein and/or amino acids impair immunity, consequently increasing the susceptibility of infections and disease.

This is partly due to the major components of the immune system being proteins themselves.

For example, antibodies (immunoglobulins) and cytokines are protein based molecules that work together with various other complimentary proteins to protect the body from infection and disease.

It is no wonder that a strong immune system, while dependent on a number of factors, is significantly impacted by nutrition. In fact most non-genetic immuodeficiencies are linked to malnutrition.

Consequently, sufficient protein and amino acid intake is crucial for proper antibody production along with a multitude of other components of the immune system, including T-cells, NK-cells and macrophages.

Question: How much protein should I eat a day?

It is recommended by the British Nutrition Foundation to consume a minimum amount of 0.75g protein per kilogram body weight per day. For a 100 kilogram adult male, this equates to 75 grams of protein.

However, for athletes and people who live an active lifestyle, protein requirements are significantly higher.

According to experts from the International Society of Sports Nutrition, “…exercising individuals need approximately 1.4 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day.”.

4. Protein has the greatest thermic effect, thereby supporting weight loss

Although it may at first sound counter intuitive, the digestion of food to provide the body with energy, requires energy. This is referred to as the thermic effect of food or TEF for short.

It is estimated that TEF accounts for approximately 10% of daily calorie expenditure.  However, of all the macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbohydrates), protein requires the most energy to digest and therefore has the highest TEF rating.

According to data from this meta-analysis, “The reported TEF for protein is 20–30% of energy content compared to fat (0–3%) and carbohydrates (5–10%) (3). Thus, the higher the protein content of the meal, the larger the effect on EE (50, 51).”

Because protein boosts thermogenesis along with satiety, it is proposed that diets higher in protein may result in increased weight loss and fat loss.

Conclusion

Proteins are comprised of various different sequences of amino acids that form vast and complex structures. Life as we know it is built on protein and its subsequent importance for health is essential.

Protein is responsible for the maintenance, repair, and growth of skeletal muscles. Protein also plays an integral part of nourishing the immune system to protect from pathogens and disease.

According to various protein evaluation methods, the most nutritious and bioavailable sources of protein are whey protein supplements, whole eggs, lean meats and wild fish.

 

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