I’m sure you’re well aware that bodybuilders and fitness advocates consume a lot of protein on a daily basis. You see them chugging down their protein shakes, eating tons of chicken, tuna, and other lean, protein-packed meats. Many of you probably think that eating that much protein is only for those wanting massive amounts of muscle… Although bodybuilders may need more protein than the average person trying to become healthy and get in shape, I’m going to share 4 reasons why YOU, no matter your fitness and health goals, need protein (animal protein!) in your diet.
Reason #1: Protein Builds, Feeds, & Strengthens Muscle
Protein is food for your muscles. Without adequate amounts of protein in your diet, your muscles will remain small and weak and you also risk losing existing muscle tissue. Protein is what feeds, heals, and strengthens your muscles. It is especially important for those of you who workout – without enough protein, you will be more sore and unable to perform as well due to fatigued, weak muscles. No one wants to workout regularly just to find themselves at the very same level of fitness they were when they first started. Protein is essential when it comes to strengthening and building muscles which brings me to reason #2.
Reason #2: Muscle Burns Fat
Do I even need to say more? This point should make everyone want to eat more protein… The more muscles we have, the more calories we will burn throughout the day, and the more calories we burn, the more fat we will shed! It’s that simple.
Reason #3: Protein Provides Satiety
It is a well-known fact that protein provides more satiety than other food groups. Chicken and beef are going to be much more filling for a longer period than an equal serving of rice or potatoes. And why is this important? Because when you consume a good amount of protein, you are likely to eat less food throughout the day. Less food equals a lower daily caloric intake which can then lead to weight loss. Now I'm not saying to under-eat...that's just as detrimental (if not more so) than overeating. I'm saying you'll be more satisfied and will have fewer cravings when you consume more protein.
Everyone at some point has brought out chips, cookies, ice cream, or a big tub of theater popcorn and began eating out of the package only to realize a little while later that over half of it is gone! Say “goodbye” to a day’s worth of calories in 20 minutes. And you know what makes things worse? Usually you’re still hungry afterwards because most junk foods aren’t filling…! Do yourself a favor and replace some of those empty calories with some healthy protein and see if your daily caloric intake decreases. You’ll be surprised how much your hunger pangs will lessen as well.
Reason #4: Protein & General Health
I’m not going to go too deep into this one because it’s something I recommend you look into on your own. Protein is important for the body and health in general. It promotes healthy bones, cartilage, blood, skin, hormone production, etc. Of course, the source of your protein also matters.
Animal protein is far superior than plant protein - in regard to amino acids, nutrient density, gut health and digestion, and more. The health of the animal, how it was raised, and what it was fed also makes a difference (for example, grass-fed and pastured-raised is better and more nutrient-dense than factory-farmed and grain-fed). Now I don’t claim to be an expert, but I have studied the benefits of animal protein and you will be amazed at what all protein can do for the body.
Suggested Daily Protein Intake
Protein needs are different for every individual. Personally, especially if you are exercising regularly, I recommend you try to have close to .75 - 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (i.e. if someone weighs 145lbs, they should try to consume 109-145 grams of protein daily). If you don’t want to measure in grams, then you could aim to eat around 30-35% of your daily caloric intake in protein instead (i.e. if you consumed 1800 calories each day, 540-630 of those calories would come from protein).
Don’t feel like you have suddenly start eating this much protein tomorrow – slowly and safely up your protein every day until you reach your goal intake. Changing your diet too much too fast may stress your body and mind to the point of setting yourself up for failure. Try to set realistic short-term goals for yourself until you are able to reach your set amount of daily protein.
Protein, especially animal protein, is essential for overall well-being. If you want to become fit and healthy – whether it’s for you or for your loved ones – quality protein should play a large role in your diet.
Check out my slow cooker carnitas recipe here!
How do you like to eat your protein? Share in the comments below!