Health Benefits Of Adding More Protein To Your Diet
When you want to plan out a healthy and well-balanced diet, you will need to consider the foods you eat and the type of nutrients you obtain. Protein is a macronutrient, or a primary nutrient, your body needs for good health. The challenge is identifying the appropriate sources of protein as well as the amount your body needs to reach your health goals.
Why Your Body Needs Protein
The first aspect of setting up a healthy diet is determining why your body needs protein. The nutrient is found in every cell in your body, and it plays a role in building and maintaining muscle. It is one of the building blocks for your body, so you need protein to build and repair your cells.
When you do not have enough protein in your body, it is difficult for your cells to repair from damages and to build new cells. It may cause health concerns that range from a loss of muscle mass, failure to grow, heart conditions, and death. It also contributes to a condition called Kwashiorkor if you do not have enough protein in your normal diet.
Your body needs protein to build up your muscles and cells. By adding more protein to your diet, you have a larger amount of the amino acids your body uses to maintain, build, and repair your cells.
Benefits of Protein in Your Diet
The advantages of eating more protein in your diet depend on your current health and situation; however, it does have positive benefits for most individuals. A key advantage is the impact on your energy levels and your immune system. If you do not have enough protein, then your immune system weakens, and you face a greater challenge with fighting sickness. By eating the amount of protein your body needs, you have a lower risk of immune health concerns.
Also having a high-protein diet, it helps you stabilize your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels. By keeping your blood sugar stable, you have a lower risk of developing diabetes or you are able to control the symptoms of diabetes.
Adding protein to your diet also helps you obtain your weight loss goals. Since a high-protein diet helps you stay full for a longer time period when compared to low-protein diets, it keeps you satiated and helps you reduce your caloric intake. You will maintain a healthy weight when you eat a balanced diet that focuses on high-protein foods.
When to Eat Protein
Although, eating protein is important for a balanced diet, you also want to identify when to eat a high-protein meal. A simple rule is balancing your protein intake throughout the day. Eat protein with every meal, and start early with a high-protein breakfast to help you stay on track with your meals throughout the day.
If you intend to engage in a rigorous workout or exercise regimen, then opt for a high-protein snack or meal after your routine. A higher level of protein after a workout will help you rebuild the muscles and your cells. On days when you plan to rest from exercise, you will want to spread out the protein content throughout the day for the optimal balance.
The key is not necessarily focusing on the timing when eating a high-protein meal. Instead, it is focusing on ensuring that you have enough protein in your diet and that you eat it throughout the day for the best impact on your health and personal dietary goals.
Sources of Protein
While protein is essential for your health, you have a variety of sources to help you reach your goals. Most protein sources break down into two main categories: animal proteins and plant-based proteins.
Animal proteins include meat, fish, dairy, or any other animal products. In the case of your diet plan, it primarily stems from meat and fish. It may also come from eggs or dairy products. The amount of protein in an animal product depends on the animal, the cut of meat, and the specific type of meat. Generally, organic meats contain higher levels of healthy amino acids and proteins when compared to non-organic options, but any animal product will contain some protein.
Plant-based protein sources refer to any plants with protein. Plant-based foods with a high level of protein includes beans, lentils, seeds, and nuts. When eating seeds or nuts, pay attention to the fat content, since it may contain a high level of fat as well as protein.
The Differences Between Meat and Vegetable Sources for Protein
The obvious difference between meat and vegetable sources for protein in your diet is the actual source. Plant-based proteins stem from beans, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts, and any other plant in your diet. It usually contains a slightly lower content of protein when compared to meat, but the exact amount varies based on the source. Meat proteins are found in animal products, like meat, fish, and diary.
Vegetable proteins, or plant-based proteins, usually do not contain the full range of amino acids your body needs for good health. This means a vegetarian or vegan will need to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and beans to get the full range of amino acids. Animal products usually contain a higher range of amino acids, so you may not need to eat the same wide variety of foods to get the protein.
Be aware that protein is not the only nutrient to consider when planning your meals, and you will still want a variety of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet when you eat meat.
How Much is Too Much Protein
The final consideration when planning a high-protein diet is how much protein your body actually needs for good health. Excessive protein intake may contribute to health conditions, like heart disease or cancer. Ideally, you want high-quality sources of protein with a focus on plant-based foods and fish while limiting red meat.
You should also take other nutrients into consideration when planning a diet and ensure that your protein intake ranges from 10 to 35 percent of your diet. An athlete will need a higher level of protein at roughly 35 percent of their diet. If you have an active lifestyle then you may need more than 10 percent of your diet. The exact amount depends on your lifestyle and goals.
In conclusion, protein plays an essential role in your health. When you are protein deficient, it may lead to health concerns; however, too much protein is also a concern for your well-being. Ideally, a well-balanced diet that contains a reasonable amount of protein based on your diet and exercise habits is ideal for living a healthy lifestyle.