Many of us think of protein as the food group which builds muscle. We don’t consider that protein is essential for creating enzymes and hormones. Protein has the important role of growth and repair and that includes our hair, skin, tendons, ligaments and even our bones. Consuming a high protein diet may also aid in weight loss.
Weight Loss on a High Protein Diet
Protein suppresses our appetite and therefore allows us to feel fuller for longer. When we eat protein, we reduce ghrelin. As ghrelin is a hormone that uplifts our appetite, reducing ghrelin will help us to consume less calories than we burn on a daily basis.
A high protein diet also has the opposite effect. When we increase our protein intake, our body manufactures GLP-1, Peptide YY and cholecystokinin. These are hormones that suppress our appetite. (Lejeune MP et al., Hannon-Engel S).
We are often advised to consume a high protein breakfast. There are three reasons why this may be beneficial.
- If we start the day with a high protein breakfast, it reduces our ghrelin. As stated earlier, this response will reduce our appetite.
- Consuming any meal will burn calories. However, our diet induced calorie burn at breakfast time is much higher than it is at dinner time.
- Protein burns more calories in digestion than carbohydrates and fats.
If we consume a high protein breakfast, we may feel fuller for longer whilst burning additional calories. The net result is less calories eaten and more calories burnt. This of course will lead to weight loss.
Muscle Tone and Protein
Protein is the macro-nutrient responsible for growth and repair. Protein has some responsibility in the formation of hormones, the thickness of our hair and the integrity of our skin. Without protein, our wounds wouldn’t heal and our bones would be brittle.
Having an adequate protein intake will result in improved muscle tone. Would you like to hear a secret?
“Muscle Tone” is simply muscle mass without body fat.
Most personal trainers know this but we don’t like to tell our clients. Many female clients fear that they will build a masculine physique. However, most men struggle to achieve a kilogram of muscle mass per year despite their optimal physiology.
To achieve muscle tone, I’d recommend a weight lifting session three days per week. Practice compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts, push-ups and bent over rows. Also, lift for 8 to 15 repetitions per set.
As stated in my article Overcoming Poor Muscle Tone, consume 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight throughout each day.
Foods Containing Protein
- lean meats – beef, lamb, veal, pork, kangaroo
- poultry – chicken, turkey, duck, emu, goose, bush birds
- fish and seafood – fish, prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, scallops, clams
- dairy products – milk, yoghurt (especially Greek yoghurt), cheese (especially cottage cheese)
- nuts (including nut pastes) and seeds – almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, macadamias, hazelnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
- legumes and beans – all beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, tofu.
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