The function of proteins
Why do we need them and what do they do?
We all need protein because we are all functioning human beings that need to carry out reactions and processes to stay alive. Protein is needed for the following:
- Role in almost all physiological process
- Provides structural support
- Catalyse reactions in the body
- Regulates hormones, neurotransmitters, RNA and DNA
- Protein increases and maintains bone mineral density (*3)
Protein for weight loss *1
This is an interesting one. Surely if you want to lose weight you just eat fewer calories overall? Yes that is correct but protein can be a big help. Protein is very satiating and leaves you feeling fuller and more satisfied; therefore if your on a diet you won’t feel as deprived and you can still feel full. Protein also helps to preserve muscle mass by ensuring your not using your own protein stores for energy whilst in a calorie deficit and you lose fat mass instead. Compared to carbohydrates and fats the TEF or Thermic Effect of Food is much greater with protein, hence you expend more calories digesting protein and this will help your goal of weight loss.
- Hunger decreases
- Fullness increases
- Preservation of lean body mass
- Increased Thermogenesis (more calories are expended during digestion than other macronutrients)
- Your body burns more calories to maintain muscle than it does fat
Protein for weight gain
If you’re trying to gain weight and muscle, protein is very important. The main reasoning being that to build muscle you need an amino acid pool which you get from ingesting protein. If you’re looking to build muscle you need a good quality training stimulus also, if you want to give every session your best you need to be well recovered. New proteins are synthesized to repair the muscle you just damaged in training allowing it to grow stronger and bigger. Therefore protein will help you recover and you can have another great session with a good quality stimulus.
- Protein helps build muscle
How much protein do you need? (*2)
I was reluctant to address this because it is so variable, however I felt I needed to. The amount of protein you need varies with age, genetics and mainly lifestyle. However research studies have suggested that 25% of your overall caloric intake should be protein for the average individual as we are in an age of energy surplus. But there are huge variations for active individuals from 1-2g protein per lb of bodyweight bing studied with varing esults in different sitiuations. Therefore I would recommend speaking to a qualified dieteition, nutrition coach or using a reputable calculations such as the ones from Alan Aragon and Lyle Macdonald.
Sources of protein
Here are SOME of the main sources, obviously there are so many more:
|Animal Based||Plant Based|
I hope you can see how fundamental protein is for everyone, you don’t have to be lifting weights like a bro in the gym but to live a healthier life eating more protein can help you lose weight , gain muscle and help your body.
Get geeky and read some of the references or start searching for your own ! Just remember that no studies are perfect and to always question and be skeptical of the results.
1* Appetite control and biomarkers of satiety with vegetarian (soy) and meat-based high-protein diets for weight loss in obese men: a randomized crossover trial.
1*The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance
2* Bilsborough S, Mann N. A review of issues of dietary protein intake in humans. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2006 Apr; 16 (2): 129-52