5 Top Reasons to Protein Up!
Do you want to optimize muscle growth and repair after a workout or even your weight-loss efforts? Then make sure you're getting enough protein!
Protein is a macronutrient found in food and utilized in every cell of the body. This super nutrient can have a profound effect on body composition, but before you dive into a protein-rich diet, let’s first explore how it can help you pack on muscle and burn away fat!
The Top 5 Benefits of Consuming Protein:
1. Muscle Growth & Repair
Protein is compromised of long chains of amino acids. These amino acids play many critical roles in our bodies. While there are quite a few amino acids, our bodies typically require 20 different amino acids to form new proteins (e.g. muscle tissue).
These "proteinogenic" amino acids can be further classified into two groups: essential and non-essential.
There are 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) and these must be obtained from food. Whereas, the non-essential amino acids can be made in the body (from other amino acids).
Essential Amino Acids
*The last 3 are also the Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs).
The EAAs are of the utmost importance as they've been found to be a key driver of muscle growth and recovery after a workout.
While we tend to think of weight training as a means to building muscle - you definitely want to finish off your workouts with protein.
Lifting weights causes damage to your muscle tissue that breaks down proteins. In fact, the process leads to an increase in muscle protein breakdown (MPB). However, you can combat this by topping off your workouts with protein to increase muscle protein synthesis (MPS).
You see, in order to build and retain muscle, you need to have a positive net protein balance. Basically, MPS has to exceed MPB and must do so for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, truly extraordinary gains in muscle take time. So, you need to be diligent with your training, recovery and diet!
Therefore, in order to help support a positive net balance in the body, you need to eat enough protein to keep MPS up! We'll get into a daily recommendation in a bit, but for now, keep reading to see how your protein intake can make a world of difference in other ways.
While protein and EAAs can help repair and build muscle tissue, they also can be utilized as an energy source. With the BCAAs being of particular interest.
BCAAs account for 35% of the essential amino acids in muscle proteins and 40% of the total amino acids your body requires.
During an intense workout, your muscle will oxidize (burn) BCAAs to help fuel performance and muscular contractions. Therefore, consuming a higher protein intake (or BCAAs) can help spare muscle tissue from being broken down. However, that's not the only way protein can help prevent muscle loss.
Research has shown time and time again that a higher protein intake can help preserve lean body mass (e.g. muscle) during a calorie-reduced diet.
So, if you're looking to lose fat and hold onto your hard-earned muscle - jack up your protein intake. Just keep in mind that's not the only way this macronutrient can help with weight loss.
3. Increased Thermogenesis
Let's go over the thermic effect of food:
After a meal, your body has to digest, absorb, metabolize and store what you ate. To do so, your body has to expend energy. Therefore, everything you eat, requires you to burn calories. This is called the thermic effect of food.
Each macronutrient (protein, carbs and fat) generally has a different thermic effect. Fats and carbohydrates are processed in the body much easier than protein. In other words, protein isn't as efficiently utilized as carbs or fats.
In fact, protein has a thermic effect of 20-30% whereas carbs are at 5-10% and fat is between 0-3%. What this means is that you have to expend 20-30% of the calories from the protein you ate to process it.
This may be why a much higher protein intake hasn't been shown to increase fat gain when in a calorie surplus. (Note: Subjects actually lost fat). Or even why you get the "meat sweats" after a high-protein meal.
Suffice to say, a high-protein diet can help you burn through calories, but once again, that's not the only way it helps you get lean and stay that way!
4. Hunger & Satiety
According to research, protein is by far the most filling of the macronutrients, helping you feel fuller with less food. This is due in part to the fact that protein lowers your levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. It also increases your peptide YY levels, a hormone that helps you feel full.
So, if your goal is to lose or maintain weight, consider substituting some of your carbs and fats with protein. It can definitely help curb your appetite .
5. Lose Fat & Keep It Off
You were probably wondering this after reading the last few benefits and yes, a higher protein, calorie-reduced diet has been shown to lead to greater losses weight and fat. In fact, the subjects also tended to lose less lean body mass too!
With the above said, a higher protein diet has also been shown to help people keep the weight off too.
In this study, one group subjects consumed a higher protein intake for 3 months after initial weight loss. Once the trial was over, those who had a higher protein intake were able to significantly reduce fat regain when compared to subjects who followed a lower protein intake.
How Much Protein?
As a general recommendation, consume 0.6-0.9 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight to gain/maintain muscle mass and 1-1.4 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight during a calorie-restricted diet.
In regards to protein sources, you'll want to ensure you're getting all 9 EAAs. This can be achieved by consuming "complete" protein sources.
Basically, complete protein sources include all 9 EAAs whereas "incomplete" protein sources are missing at least one of them. This missing EAA is generally termed the "limiting amino acid". (More on this in a bit.)
Animal sources, such as meat, seafood, poultry, eggs and dairy products (including PRO RECOVERY), are complete proteins. While plant sources, such as soy, quinoa, and buckwheat also have all 9 EAAs.
Unfortunately, other plant sources are missing one of the EAAs. Fortunately tho, you can easily combine various plant-source proteins that have different limiting amino acids to compensate.
Just keep in mind tho, if you're looking for an absolutely delicious vegan/vegetarian friendly protein powder then try our PLANT POWER. Each serving provides 21 grams of protein and all 9 EAAs! Plus, PLANT POWER is naturally sweetened and flavoured!
Summing It Up
As you are now undoubtedly aware, a high-protein intake is essential for building, repairing and maintaining muscle tissue. It can also aid in fat loss by keeping you feeling fuller for longer and help you burn calories. While also helping you to keep the weight off too!
Finally, if you're looking for a convenient way to keep your protein (and amino acid) intake high, try our PRO RECOVERY, BCAA HYDRATE and/or PLANT POWER! These high-quality products can help you reach your protein needs and they all taste amazing!