In the age of svelte bodies and washboard abs, high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets are the hottest trend. Every fitness-conscious person wants a slice of protein – be it in the form of protein shakes, protein bars, or through their food! Today, protein is the ‘miracle food’ that’s essential for quick weight loss, and more and more people are jumping on to the bandwagon. So, let’s try and understand what’s the power of protein!
Protein is an integral component of every cell in our body and is essential to carry out significant functions. For starters, our hair and nails are made of a structural protein called ‘keratin’, which is also found in skin cells. Next, your body needs protein for growth and maintenance of tissues. Under normal circumstances, your body breaks down the same amount of protein that it uses to build and repair tissues. At other times, it breaks down more protein than it creates, which eventually increases the body’s needs. Besides, protein is also needed to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. It is also an important building block of bones, muscles, skin, blood, and cartilage.
Numerous studies also show that eating protein can help to increase muscle mass and strength. If you are physically active and lift weights or try to gain muscle and strength, then you must get enough protein. Just like fat and carbohydrates, protein is a macronutrient, which means that the body requires large quantities of this nutrient. The significant difference here is unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein and has no reserves to draw on when it needs more supply. Men, women, and children have different daily intakes for protein. For instance, teenage boys and active men need three daily servings of protein, while young children, most women, and elderly people require two daily servings.
The right kind of protein
There’s no dearth of protein available in the market, but one needs to be mindful while making their food choices. While a humongous, eight-ounce steak is also high-protein food, it also carries a huge amount of saturated fat. Consumption of processed meat such as hot dogs, sausages, and deli meats increase the risk of lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart ailments, and cancer. It’s also difficult to maintain weight if you consume these proteins regularly!
Starting your day with a protein-rich breakfast can regulate your metabolism and help you maintain a healthy weight. This is because your body needs to work to digest and metabolise protein; this ensures you feel full sooner and for longer. Your body also utilises the amino acids in protein to build lean muscle mass, and those muscles work hard to burn calories even when you are sitting still – it takes twice as much effort as converting carbohydrates or fats into glucose.
Consuming high-protein foods also helps you feel satiated and decreases hunger, as compared to diets that are high in fats or carbohydrates. Studies also suggest that most people on high-protein diets take in fewer calories per day, which eventually leads to weight loss. On an average, high-protein diets produce an average weight loss that’s about 4.5 pounds greater than what’s achieved on diets after six months!
The key to good self-care and a healthy body is to choose the right kind of protein. Choose fish for its rich repository of omega-3 fatty acids and less fat. Even in the case of poultry, one can eliminate most of the saturated fat by removing the skin. Besides, beans also have more protein than any vegetable and are loaded with fibre that keeps you full for long! Nuts and whole grains are also high-protein foods that are essential to remain fit.
Apart from this, both egg and cottage cheese are excellent sources of protein. One egg has six grams of complete protein and contains all nine essential amino acids, while just a half cup serving of cottage cheese gives you 15 grams of protein.
Even a slight increase in protein intake can go a long way in maintaining weight. If you want to lose weight and reduce the risk of obesity, then make sure you get your daily dose of protein. After all, it helps you stay fit and prevents ageing, too!