Is protein really that important?
Here’s the short answer: Yes. But is it also over hyped sometimes? Yes again!
There are tons of benefits to getting adequate protein in our diet. Protein blunts hunger, prevents weight gain, helps prevent extreme swings in energy levels & mood, improves body composition (when paired with weight lifting), and more! I won’t explain all of the benefits in depth (because we’ll be here forever & start to get bored), but I will explain 2 benefits that I think are super important.
If you’re a newbie to macros or just want to learn some healthy macronutrient recommendations from me, listen to the podcast episode where I chat all about that HERE!
My Experience With Low Protein
Last spring/summer I significantly decreased my protein intake while I was testing out a plant based diet. This took a serious toll on my body. I really wanted it to work for me but unfortunately it just didn’t. (I can do a post dedicated to plant based protein vs. animal based protein if anyone is interested, but for now just know I completely respect anyone’s decision to be vegan, vegetarian, etc. etc. you get it).
Even though eating a plant based diet was a fail for me, I’m actually really glad I tried it because I now understand what happens to my body when I’m deficient in protein.
Basically: I was hungry af 24/7 & I started to see some of the progress I’d made with my muscle definition fade away. Here’s why:
1. Protein Helps Control Your Appetite
I’ve told you guys many times before that I like to have meals that contain a healthy source of protein, carbs and fats in order to stay as full as possible for as long as possible. Protein is the #1 reason for this. It’s the macronutrient that will keep you feeling the fullest for the longest amount of time & really help to control cravings when you’re not hungry. This is 100% something I struggled with when I decreased protein in my diet. I was hungry all the time. I always felt like I needed a snack & never felt completely full or satisfied for longer than 40 minutes after a meal. You should not be feeling like you need to eat that frequently! Because protein helps curb your appetite, it goes hand in hand with preventing weight gain.
2. Protein Improves Muscle Definition When Paired With Resistance Training
You have probably heard the phrase “proteins are the building blocks of muscles” before. This is just #facts. If you want that toned look to your muscles, you have to be fueling your body with enough protein. Otherwise your muscles won’t be able to grow! If you’ve ever felt like your muscle definition has gone down over time without changing your weight lifting routine, your diet is most likely to blame. This happened to me after a few months of being plant based. I started to realize that my abs didn’t look as defined as they were before!
Hopefully you can see from those two examples alone that eating enough protein is actually super important. Whether you choose to get protein from animal sources or plant sources is completely up to you of course. Regardless, try to get the majority of your protein from whole foods if you can. If you aren’t able to consume enough because of dietary restrictions, then consider adding a protein powder to supplement! Just make sure you’re reading the labels of protein powders before you buy- a lot of them are filled with no so great ingredients!
If you want examples of healthy proteins to eat, check out this blog post.
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