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How to Fuel Your Health and Lifestyle with Protein

Learn More About Protein and the Types You Should Consider

How to Fuel Your Health and Lifestyle with Protein

Protein – What the latest data says about getting enough for your health and your lifestyle goals.

The body needs all macronutrients in different proportions order to thrive. Therefore, fat, protein and carbohydrates should find their way in your diet each day in the form of meals and snacks. But protein is unique. While limiting carbohydrates or fats has been found to be beneficial in some diets, many dietary patterns suggest boosting protein. The question is – how much should you get to reach your lifestyle goals? Further – what are the best sources to get them from?

Before we can dive into sources and types, it’s important to understand the role that protein plays in the body.  Your body, and nearly every aspect of you can be boiled down to a bunch of cells and signaling molecules. Amino acids (the building blocks for protein) and proteins themselves are essential parts of each and every cell and many signaling molecules like neurotransmitters and hormones. Dietary protein is thus necessary to help provide your body with amino acids at the cellular level and plays an important role in maintaining the health of your bones, muscles, immune system and skin.  Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and truly, of life itself.  

How much protein should you be consuming?

Getting 25%- 35% of your calories from protein is a good base to start with, however needs may vary based on age, activity, and health status. To calculate basic protein needs, head HERE and to determine if you need more due to a high activity level, read on! 

The benefits of adequate protein in the diet are many – here are findings from a few newer studies.

1. Protein may help boost metabolism

A 2015 study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adding more protein to meals and snacks could lead to significant improvements in health through assisting with weight loss and weight maintenance. Researchers found that adequate protein consumption helped facilitate this by boosting metabolism.  They further recommended adding more protein to breakfast and lunch.  

2. High protein may help to maintain blood pressure already within the normal range

A  2022 study in the Journal Hypertension found that eating enough protein and diversifying your protein sources could help maintain a healthy blood pressure already within the normal range.  Hypertension has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. 

3. Protein in the morning can help in facilitating greater muscle growth

A 2021 study in the Journal Cell Reports found that increasing protein consumption at breakfast increases muscle size and function in both humans and animals. Researchers found that the body’s circadian rhythm helped to facilitate these beneficial results.

4. Doubling protein may help maintain muscle mass and promote fat loss in individuals trying to lose weight

A study in the Journal FASEB found that taking double the amount of protein intake while losing weight helped to maintain muscle mass and encourage fat loss. However, researchers found the tripling protein did not show benefits.  

5. Protein keeps you fuller, longer

A 2016 meta-analysis found that protein leads to feelings of fullness and satisfaction, making it easier to manage weight. These benefits were seen with just modest increases in protein intake. 

What types of protein should you consider? 

Whey protein, in particular, has been found to have high bioavailability and benefit individuals who are looking to achieve greater muscle mass, for example.  Whey has also been found to be beneficial in maintenance of muscle mass in older individuals as well.  

Animal forms of protein may be a good option for individuals looking to limit overall carbohydrates and/or consume complete proteins (these are proteins that include all 9 essential amino acids).  Animal based protein has also been found to be beneficial in maintenance of skeletal muscle in older individuals. 

Sources of protein from animals include eggs, poultry, dairy and lean meat.  Experts caution getting too much protein from processed red meat, however, as some data suggests it may increase risk of certain cancers.  

Finally – for the athletes out there; whether you are a weekend warrior, a marathoner, or just a mom who wants to start weightlifting – getting enough protein will help you achieve your best game possible.  A 2019 study from The International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that increasing protein consumption to 1.6 g per kilogram of body mass was beneficial for certain athletes such as those competing in track and field. Other studies show going up to 1.8 g per kilogram of body mass may be beneficial to individuals who are weight training.