Thursday, October 3, 2019 2:39 PM

The Benefits of Protein

If you’ve walked through a grocery store or driven by a fitness center recently, chances are you’ve seen a sign for some type of protein supplement claiming to help you “build better muscle” or “lose more weight”.
 
But what exactly is protein? And what does it do for our bodies?
 

What is Protein?

Protein, along with fats and sugars, is one of the three major nutrition groups we need to grow, repair and replace cells in our bodies. Protein is an important part of every cell in our bodies and different types of protein play different roles. For example:
 

  • Proteins support our immune system by forming antibodies that help fight infection

  • Transport proteins carry nutrients like vitamins, blood sugar and oxygen throughout our bodies

  • Proteins supply our bodies with energy

  • Our bodies need protein to grow new cells that can make new tissue

 
Having enough protein in our system keeps us functioning properly. Not consuming enough may lead to other issues in our bodies, including: loss of muscle mass and weakened heart and lung function.
 

Protein and Weight Loss

We’ve heard of different diets centered on this idea of “more protein, less (or zero) carbs.” But does it really work?
 
Multiple studies explored protein consumption and its role in weight loss and weight management. In April 2015, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition released a report that found protein not only supports a resting metabolism but people consuming high-protein foods feel “more full” and may take in fewer calories during the day, ultimately resulting in weight loss.
 
While each person’s dietary needs are different and some individuals may need more protein than others, researchers found that diets with about 25-30 grams of protein a meal have helped with weight management.
 

How Much Protein Should I Eat?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that protein make up about a quarter of your plate and developed the MyPlate guidelines to help maintain nutritional balance. You can calculate the daily number of grams of protein you need by multiplying your body weight (in pounds) by 0.36 or using an online calculator. In some cases, supplements may be necessary for individuals with specific high protein needs, but most get enough protein by simply choosing the right foods. Some foods that offer good sources of protein include:
 

  • Almonds

  • Chicken Breasts

  • Chickpeas

  • Egg Whites

  • Greek Yogurt (nonfat)

  • Oatmeal (plain, unflavored)

  • Quinoa

  • Tilapia

 
As a general rule of thumb when deciding which foods to pick at the grocery store, pick “whole” over “processed” – whole foods contain other nutritional benefits that most processed options do not.