- Protein helps control hunger and keeps you full longer throughout the day. Research has shown that eating a meal packed with protein triggers a reduction in the hormone Ghrelin (a hunger-inducing hormone) and increases the amount of peptide tyrosine tyrosine, PYY (a satiety-stimulating gut hormone). Your body is slower at digesting proteins, which is one of the reasons why proteins keep you fuller longer compared to carbohydrates. Starting your day with a high-protein breakfast may prevent you from raiding the fridge later in the day.
- Protein helps create a lean, mean physique. Diets high in amino acids aka the building blocks of protein help build a strong foundation compared to diets high in carbohydrates. You must have the essential amino acids to rebuild your muscles when you break them down with strength training. Studies have shown (especially in women) that a diet high in protein can contribute to a reduction in fat tissue. If you want to build those sculpted muscles, ya gotta feed them with delicious proteins!
- Eating protein is also important for immune function. Antibodies are specialized proteins that help your body ward off antigens (the pesky invaders that make you sick). These antibodies travel through your blood stream, protecting you from viruses and bacteria. In addition, your red blood cells contain hemoglobin, an iron-containing protein that carries oxygen to exercising muscles via the bloodstream.
- Protein helps repair and maintain tissues. Every single cell in the body utilizes protein for one process or another. Your skin, hair, nails, muscles and bones all need protein to grow and maintain structure and strength. Proteins help reduce the effects of aging and sarcopenia as well as reduce the risk of bone degeneration.
- Protein is a fuel source! After long bouts of training (think endurance events lasting longer than 90 minutes), your muscle glycogen stores become depleted and your body must use fuel from another source. Your muscle tissue becomes a sufficient source through a process called gluconeogenesis (when glucose is synthesized from fatty acids and amino acids of lean muscle).
There are many other reasons why protein is VITAL to maintaining health, short- and long-term, as well as helping you achieve your goals…plus protein is delicious!
One of my favorite protein packed snacks that I make for my hubby (I ALWAYS have to make the big daddy size lol) is a pumpkin protein shake. It is delicious for breakfast, a post-workout meal or dessert!