Many people want to build a better body shape and one of the most common requirements that are talked about is the need for more protein in your diet. Yet, the understanding for why you need this is often limited.
Protein is an important macronutrient that plays a crucial role in the process of muscle recovery and repair when you are looking to build more muscle or tone your body. It has ‘building blocks’ called amino acids that the body uses to build and repair muscles and bones, in addition to making hormones and enzymes.
It is recommended that to maximise muscle hypertrophy, you should aim for one to 1.2g per pound or two to 2.2g per kilogram of bodyweight. The sources of protein to make up these numbers come mainly from meat, fish, dairy, beans/pulses, and supplements. But why do you need this level? How can a higher-protein diet benefit your body shape and overall health?
Muscle Recovery and Building
Protein is the number one macronutrient for muscle recovery. When you resistance train, you are breaking down the muscles that you target, before they repair themselves in the recovery process. Adding muscle requires optimal recovery, and given that protein plays a huge role in this, your intake should be maximised to get the best results. If you have started from a low protein diet, your body may not be able to immediately digest the aforementioned intake requirements, so aim to build up slowly and increase your tolerance.
Metabolism For Fat Loss
Adding more protein into your diet is often related to muscle building, but many people forget that it’s essential for fat loss and changing your body shape. This is because your body requires more energy to digest protein, meaning that you will burn more calories. Furthermore, adding muscle from training and a high protein diet will increase your basal metabolic rate (number of calories you burn without doing anything) because your body requires more energy to maintain that muscle. This will make losing body fat a lot easier and mean that you don’t have to over-restrict your calories to make progress.
Satiety and Fullness
A big problem people have when trying to lose fat is feeling full and satisfied during the day and therefore giving in to hunger cravings which can take them over their calorie intake. However, high-quality sources of protein, particularly lean meats, and fish can increase satiety and prevent you from snacking on other high-calorie foods. One study in overweight men showed that increasing your protein to 25 percent of your calories reduced cravings by 60 percent and the desire to snack at night by half. Another study on overweight adolescent girls found that eating a high-protein breakfast also reduced cravings and snacking in the evening.
Improved Bone Health
Despite the ongoing theory that protein — mainly animal protein — is bad for your bones, most long-term studies indicate that it has huge benefits for the health of your bones. Eating more protein helps maintain bone mass better as you age and reduces the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures, which is especially important for women, who are at high risk of osteoporosis after menopause. Stronger bones also encourage more strength and flexibility, particularly in the lower body.
Finally, many people enjoy eating tasty, high-quality sources of protein, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. It makes your diet fun and sustainable, which is vital for long-term consistency. So, when you are on a nutrition plan for fat loss, make sure that you are including these sources to make you feel good, both physically and mentally. Aim for leaner sources of protein, so that you have more calories to play with, but don’t over-restrict and cut out foods you like. You just need to be able to fit them in your calories and stay on track with what you are trying to achieve.
So, there are several reasons why eating a higher-protein diet will help you with losing fat, building a better shape, and optimising internal health. These include muscle recovery and building, higher metabolism for fat loss, more satiety and fullness, improved bone health, and overall enjoyment. Gradually look to increase your protein intake over time to around 1/1.2 per pound of body weight and you will improve your body shape progress and health, long-term.