Protein is the single most important macronutrient when it comes to improving body composition. It is found naturally in lean meats, fish, dairy and complex carbohydrates. Below are the top 5 reasons why you need to be consuming more protein if you are serious about your muscle building or fat loss goals.
1. Increases your metabolism and fat burning ability
Eating more protein can boost your metabolism through a process called the Thermic effect of food (TEF) which is the energy required to digest, absorb and dispose of the food that we eat. TEF would account for around 10% of your daily calorie intake, but this is diet dependent. Fats and carbohydrates would only use around 5-10% of the energy consumed. Protein would use around 30% of the energy consumed to digest, absorb and dispose of the food.
2. Help keep your fuller for longer
Protein is an incredibly filling macronutrient. Foods high in protein have a high satiety index score, which ranks foods based on how much they fill you up (1). It also regulates hormones levels. A high protein diet will reduce the secretion of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and increase levels of leptin which tell the body to stop eating (2,3). Therefore if you want to reduce those cravings and feelings of hunger, eat more protein.
3. Helps with weight loss
As a high-protein diet boosts your metabolism as well as increasing your satiety levels, it is a powerful tool to use when trying to lose weight. Studies have confirmed that a high protein diet leads to a reduced intake of energy which leads to weight loss (4).
4. Aids muscle building and recovery
Muscle building is probably the most well-known benefit of eating protein. Protein is made of amino acids which aid in the muscle building process that occurs after strenuous physical activity. It's also involved in helping repair of anything that gets damaged in our body. So it's important to be consuming adequate protein.
5. Helps to lower LDL cholesterol
Studies have found that replacing refined carbohydrates with lean protein sources has been shown to decrease the levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol (4). This type of cholesterol is considered to be unhealthy ‘bad’ cholesterol.