Eat More Protein and Be Happy

One piece of diet advice that I always seem to be giving out is pretty simple: eat more protein.

This past week, one of my clients asked me why they needed to eat more protein if they weren't focused on building muscle/taking the "swoletastic voyage."  While I explained that higher protein diets have a ton of other benefits, I realized I had always taken these facts for granted.

The best way to explain why almost all Americans need more protein, is to look at the benefits we all receive from "upping" our protein intake.  So, other than trying to "look good nekkid," why else do we eat protein?

 Increasing your protein intake offers many more benefits than simply getting "tickets to the gun show."

Increasing your protein intake offers many more benefits than simply getting "tickets to the gun show."

Eating more protein helps cell turnover - All tissues in the body are living - this we know.  As such, your body is going to need to replace those tissues (and cells) on a regular basis.  By eating a higher protein diet, the quality of these reproduced cells helps to stay high, since your giving your system plenty of building blocks for tissue.

Increased thermic effect of food - This term is really just a fancy way of saying that you burn more calories when you're digesting protein than you do with other macronutrients (most notably, carbohydrates).  Why?  Well, it simply takes more energy for your body to convert protein to sugars that your body can digest, than for your body to take a larger block of sugars (carbohydrates) and convert them to smaller ones.  While this doesn't mean you should ignore calories, realize that not all calories are not treated the same way by your body.

Improved body composition - Back in 2003, this study illustrated that when you're trying to lose weight, increasing your protein to carbohydrate ratio improves a number of factors.  The group of subject that ate a higher amount of protein lost more weight, more fat, and also improved their blood lipids, glucose markers, and overall satiety.  I'm not sure about you, but all those benefits sound pretty awesome to me.

Plus, there's a ton of other benefits that a higher protein diet may be able to give you.  There's been research showing that diets high in protein may help cut cardiovascular risk, as well as increasing other hormones that will lead to a healthier body.

Now, does this mean "death to all carbs?"  Absolutely not, as I wrote here.  It does mean, however, that almost all Americans should increase their protein intake, especially among women.  One trend I've noticed is that women tend to lack adequate protein levels in their diets when compared with men.  This trend is purely observational and while I could hypothesize as to why, I'm just here to solve the problem.  

How much protein should you be eating and when?  You need to get at least a palm size serving of lean proteins at each meal.  That means at breakfast, lunch, and dinner you should be consuming at least some of the following:

  • Yogurt
  • Meat
  • Nut butters (this is the time to go as natural/organic as you can)
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Tofu
  • Quinoa
  • Fish
  • Protein powder
  • Eggs

...and I could go on.  But, you get the point.  The low-fat diet has been dismissed for a few years, and now the low-carb diet is heading that way as well.  This time, just try a higher protein diet.  Odds are, you'll feel happier and more full.

So, before you dismiss this post as a meathead trying to justify his favorite macronutrient, look at the facts and ask yourself one question: how much protein have YOU consumed today?