Protein Helps You Retain Muscle Mass
Hopefully, your New Year’s resolutions are still holding steady, and you are beginning to see some progress with your dieting and exercise.
It’s natural to experience highs and lows on any diet or exercise program, but reaching a plateau in your weight loss can be frustrating, especially if you’ve been on a roll.
Sometimes, it’s even frustrating enough to make you want to try a radical change.
Like, say, drastically switching up your protein or carb intake to see if that can make a difference.
There are many “food myths” which get recycled every few years, and protein or carbohydrate intake tend to be the target of some of these falsehoods.
If you would like our full nutrition recommendations, download our Ultimate Fat Loss Diet & Recipe Guide today!
So, let’s clear this up right now: the number one rule for successful dieting is to eat the recommended amount of protein.
That’s it! To figure out how much you need, simply multiply your body weight in pounds by 0.8.
So, if you are 150 lbs, you need a daily protein intake of 120g.
Now that you figured out how much you need, let’s talk a little about why it’s so important.
When you exercise, your body breaks down muscle fiber and then rebuilds it better and stronger than before.
This is how your muscles become physically larger, more flexible, and more capable of performing certain exercises.
In order to complete this process the right way, your body uses protein that you take in from the foods you eat.
When you are too low on protein, your body will have trouble repairing damaged muscle fiber.
You may notice that it takes you longer than usual to recover from a workout (i.e. you’re still sore three days later), or that you’re simply not performing as well in the gym.
This is because your muscles are literally running out of fuel and cannot rebuild themselves to keep up with your activity.
However, eating a healthy amount of protein helps sidestep this problem altogether.
High-protein foods can sometimes seem intimidating to those who are trying to watch their calorie intake.
Good sources of protein include foods like high quality animal protein, eggs, nuts - all foods which are often cited as being ”fattening.”
Eating an appropriate amount of protein will actually help you maintain the muscle mass required to burn excess body fat.
Protein and healthy fats are both very important parts of your nutrition puzzle, and they shouldn’t be cut out in an effort to crash diet.
Protein Helps Keep You Satiated
Feelings of hunger are annoying and difficult to ignore, but there’s a reason for that.
When your brain senses that you need food, it sends urgent signals which can make it hard to concentrate on anything else.
To be clear, it’s best to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, healthy dietary fat, and protein.
You need all of these things as part of a healthy diet.
However, it’s important to point out that protein can play an especially important role in tamping down those annoying hunger pangs.
Protein takes longer to digest, so it hangs out in your stomach longer, which gives your brain a break from sending out those hunger signals so frequently.
In fact, when protein and carbs are eaten together, protein can actually help slow down your body’s digestion of the carbohydrates, which helps you use them as energy rather than storing the excess carbohydrates as fat.
When you don’t feel as hungry, you are not nearly as tempted to snack or overeat, and you’re much more likely to stay on track with your dieting.
So, make sure you’re getting that protein. It really will help you lose weight.
Lack of Protein Leads to Other Problems
So far, we’ve talked about the importance of eating protein to support your activity level and muscle repair, and to prevent you from feeling hungry all the time.
Yet there are still a few very important signs of low protein intake you need to be aware of.
While it is very rare to be truly deficient in protein, continually coming up short on your protein intake can begin to lead to some unexpected problems.
Keep an eye out for the following:
- Swelling – Insufficient protein intake can lead to bouts of edema, which is when parts of your body become swollen or puffy.
- Hair Loss – If you are noticing that you are suddenly pulling out handfuls of hair in the shower, that’s a problem. Take a look at your diet and make sure you’re getting enough protein.
- Frequent Illness – When your body is working overtime to make up for low protein, it can leave you open to more frequent colds, especially in the winter.
- Brain Fog – It’s not just your body that needs a wide variety of nutrients, but your brain too. If you find you are having trouble concentrating at work, consider your diet as a potential source of the problem.
Of course, if you sense any major problems going on, always bring them to your doctor.
Otherwise, minor issues with weight loss or seeing the results you want in the gym can often be traced back to your diet, and more specifically to your protein intake.
Remember to look for healthy proteins whenever possible!
Lean meat such as chicken or turkey breast makes a great choice, as do fish, eggs, and some dairy products like yogurt.
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, it is especially important to watch your protein intake, and to make sure you’re getting it from plant-based sources such as tofu.
To get our full nutrition recommendations, download our Ultimate Fat Loss Diet & Recipe Guide today and learn about:
- Our 7-Step Anti-Inflammatory Diet
- How much protein you really need
- The best foods to eat (and avoid) to lose fat
- Specific meal plans and recipes for optimal results
Our personal trainers are committed to helping people in the Los Gatos area be as healthy and fit as they can.
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Mint Condition Fitness is the leading personal training studio in Los Gatos for successful men and women to become the best versions of themselves.