Protein is one of the essential macronutrients that we all need. In fact, we need to have protein to stay alive as it is "essential" for life. On a daily basis, our body requires what is called essential amino acids to live. When we do not get essential amino acids from our diet, your body will begin stripping its own muscle to provide the body with essential amino acids to live... and wasting away muscle is a bad thing. It not only affects your muscles ability to perform but it will also lower your metabolic rate.
When it comes to weight loss, you need to have protein in every meal. I know many dieters who think they are doing themselves a favour by just consuming salads or worse still, some people try to eat cereal for dinner in an effort to lose weight. Granted, that cereal does have some amount of protein, but its not going to be enough. To effectively lose weight, you need to up the amount of protein in your diet.
So why is protein so important for weight loss? Here are just some of the reasons why
1) Protein takes longer to digest - because protein molecules are more complex, it takes longer to digest. This also translates to keeping you full for longer, hence reducing snacking in between meals. Carbohydrates do a good a good job by filling you up quickly, but if your meal is only made out of carbs, you will notice that you will get hungry really fast. So make sure you add some protein into your diet.
2) Protein also encourages the release of Glucagon - which helps to release fat from fat stores and also decreases the body's ability to store fat. Double yes if you want to lose fat.
3) Protein also does not store as fat easily. Unlike carbohydrates which turn to sugar almost immediately, protein does not do that. It is possible to break down protein into sugar through a process called Gluconeogenesis, but this is only done as an absolute last resort.
4) Protein releases a natural weight loss hormone called PYY. When released in the gut, this hormone helps to reduce hunger. Eating protein rich food will help your body to easily release this hormone
5) Protein helps to maintain muscle mass, which is essential to maintaining a health metabolic rate. So if you want to keep your metabolic rate at high, then you must eat enough protein everyday - regardless of whether you are working out or not
Those are just some of the reasons why you need to have a healthy intake of protein everyday. Now i know most of you are thinking - wow... that means i can eat all the KFC i want. Well the answer is not really. The idea here is to get lean protein into your system. KFC does have lots of protein, but it also has lots of other things which you don't want. So i would not recommend it, unless you are able to provide your body with enough activity to burn it off.
So what are some good sources of lean protein?
1) Egss - it can't get simpler than this
2) Tuna in water - you can buy the cans and use them
3) Lean meats - red meats are fine as long as they don't have too much fat around them. However, my first choice would be chicken breasts
4) Fish - fish is one of the best ways to get lean protein. So if you eat out a lot, try to opt for fish, whenever you can.
5) Low fat milk - can't get easier than that. Make sure you have some low fat milk in your fridge at all times. If you are lactose intolerant like me, then soya is a good substitute. Only down side is most soya milk has sugar. If you can stomach the sugar free soya, then great. I opt for normal soya milk but i don't go over board with it. Usually just 2 cups a day.
5) Protein Powders - i highly recommend that you invest some money and get a good protein shake that you like. Protein powders is not just for body builders. Everyone can consume them and yes, to all my women readers you can too. You won't bulk up like the pictures you see on the tub of protein powder. Protein powders just takes the guess work out of getting lean protein and its so easy to prepare. PLUS, you can actually use it to replace meals. I would prefer this over meal replacements shakes.
So are you getting enough protein in your diet? To lose weight, just make sure you get protein in every meal you have. If you can do this, i am sure you will see the results you want. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.