Updated: Mar 8
If you follow me on Instagram, you know I talk a lot about eating a higher protein diet. Like… a lot.
But there’s a reason why.
About 1 in 3 Americans are under consuming the minimum amount of protein required to sustain a healthy diet.
And the minimum amount required is LOW. While this number may prevent a protein “deficiency,” it is far from optimal.
Here’s why you should increase your protein intake to optimal ranges:
#1 – Our Bodies Cannot Store Proteins
Although our bodies have the natural ability to store carbohydrates and fats, we cannot store protein in the same way. Our bodies are constantly breaking down and rebuilding new proteins, so it is vital that we eat enough protein each day to keep this process going. If we don’t eat enough protein, we lose muscle mass.
In fact, protein intake is especially vital as we age. Muscle mass decreases as we get older, so to retain muscle we must prioritize protein intake.
#2 – Protein Helps Us Lose Weight
Our bodies use energy to digest food, known as the Thermic Effect of Feeding (TEF). More energy is required to digest protein than from fats and carbs. To be exact, 20-35% of the energy consumed when eating protein is burned to process it, with carbs and fats at only 5-15%.
Protein is also more satiating, meaning it keeps us fuller for longer. When we are full on protein, we desire less sugary carbs and other processed foods that may contribute to weight gain.
#3 – More Protein Means More Muscle Mass
We all want to be “toned.” But getting “toned” really doesn’t exist. Muscle does not tone – it either grows or it shrinks. Protein intake, coupled with strength training, will help to grow muscles.
The more muscle tissue we have, the more calories our bodies burn at rest. That means that by simply increasing our muscle mass, our bodies can become lean, mean, calorie burning machines! Only when we lose body fat do we see the muscle we’ve gained, achieving that “toned” look.
#4 – It Balances Blood Glucose Levels
I hate to break it to you, but your breakfast banana in the morning is spiking your blood sugar more than you realize.
Blood sugar rises and falls when we eat food too high in quick-digesting carbohydrates and low in protein and fat. Blood sugar swings can significantly impact our mood, our brain health, and our desire for more quick-digesting carbohydrates. It can become like a drug addiction – when we feel that blood sugar crash we crave more carbs and so the addictive cycle continues.
To keep blood sugar stable throughout the day, avoid eating naked carbs – meals without fats or protein. On the other hand, having meals balanced with protein, fats, carbs, and fiber will keep you full and control your blood sugar and cravings.
If you’re ready to try incorporating more protein in your diet, I suggest starting with breakfast!
If you’d like to learn more about how much protein you personally should be eating, schedule your free consultation with me here.