When it comes to important macronutrients, you’d struggle to find a more beneficial example than protein, and for very good reason as well. Not only does protein help to maintain and produce new muscle tissue, it’s also essential for cellular health and function.
Now, when you consider the fact that we ourselves are comprised of billions upon billions of cells, suddenly the importance of keeping cells fit and healthy becomes much more clear and understandable.
Nowadays, people are trying their hands at a whole variety of different diet plans, some safe, effective, and healthy, and other dangerous, harmful, and just downright absurd. A high protein diet however, has been proven effective for many different reasons, and there are many different types of high protein diet to choose from.
Some people go with high protein, moderate carbs, and low fat, whilst others go high fat, high protein, and low carb. Whichever high protein diet you decide to try, knowing everything there is to know about this important macronutrient is only going to benefit you in the long run.
Here then, is your ultimate high protein diet guide.
What is protein
As mentioned, protein is a macronutrient, one of three, with the other two being fats and carbohydrates, that is essential for the growth and repair of muscle tissue, as well as the cells which make up our bodies.
Protein is a molecule found in certain foods and beverages, that is broken down into amino acids for the body. The human body requires 20 amino acids, 11 of which it can synthesize itself (non essential), whereas the other 9 it cannot synthesize, which makes them essential. Protein is found in a number of different foods, with the most common and popular examples including:
Seafood ( also are foods high in zinc)
There are also various protein supplement powders which include:
Whey protein concentrate and isolate
Brown rice protein
What are the benefits of following a high protein diet?
Now that we know a little more about what protein is and where it is most commonly found, let’s now take a look at a few of the main benefits associated with following a high protein diet:
Increased muscle mass
There’s a reason why bodybuilders and people looking to increase their muscle mass follow high protein diets, and that reason is the fact that protein is essential for the growth and repair of muscle tissue.
When we lift weights in the gym, we’re not building muscle at all, we’re actually destroying it, which is why we ache afterwards. We build muscle when we rest, as our bodies rebuild existing muscle tissue, building it bigger and stronger than before.
In order for our bodies to do this however, they need the right nutrients, which primarily include protein and the amino acids that make up protein molecules.
To build muscle on a high protein diet, we need around 2 grams of protein for every pound that we weigh. That means a 200lb person would require 400 grams of protein per day, spaced out over several meals.
Protein keeps you full for longer
If you are following a high protein diet, there’s a good chance you’re doing so in order to improve your physique. Your primary goals will probably be to build lean muscle mass, whilst burning as much body fat as you can.
The problem with most diets is that as you’re on a calorie deficit, or are having to eat super-clean to hit your daily macro targets, you find yourself hungry and/or craving junk food. High protein diets however, are ideal because they allow you to consume decent sized portions, and still keep your weight under control.
Protein molecules are much harder to digest than fats or carbs, which means the protein stays in your stomach for longer. The longer it stays in your stomach, the longer hunger is kept at bay because you still feel full.
If you feel full, you won’t eat more food or crave unhealthy food, and can therefore keep your body fat under control.
Protein burns fat
As mentioned, protein is much harder to digest and break down than other macros, which makes it a thermogenic compound. This is because as the body struggles to digest it and break it down, it has to work harder and so requires more energy.
It gets this energy via your metabolism, which will burn calories and stored body fat to generate said energy. Over time, this can gradually lead to an increase in metabolic function, which basically means that your metabolism will be able to speed up permanently following high protein consumption.
This means you can burn more calories than usual, and will have more energy in the process.
It boosts post-workout recovery
Post-workout nutrition recovery is incredibly important for people trying to build muscle, which is why people will immediately consume a protein shake, often enriched with additional amino acids to help stimulate post-workout recovery.
Your muscles are vulnerable and depleted of nutrients after you exercise, so it’s vital you get nutrients and fuel into the muscles as quickly as possible following a workout, so that your body can begin the recovery process right away.
Protein is vital for post-workout recovery, which is why individuals who consume protein immediately following a workout, have far stronger and far more efficient muscles than those that don’t.