Have you ever wondered why your personal trainer always pushes you to eat more protein? Well, the easy and short answer is… because you aren’t eating enough of it! So go get that steak/chicken/salmon out of the fridge and start chewing on it!
But in all seriousness, is this really necessary? Do you always need to be eating more protein? Well, the right answer for that question is: It depends…. A person’s protein needs depend on their specific situation and goals. But, with that being said I will say that almost everyone I have ever trained needed to increase their protein intake. Especially the women. Why do you like Carbs so much ladies?
Ok, back to the protein. Before I give the benefits of eating more protein let’s look at what protein actually is.
WHAT IS PROTEIN?
Proteins are a Macronutrient (Proteins, Carbs, and Fats), and are often referred to as the most important “Macro” in building muscle. Proteins are the building blocks of all the tissues in your body. Most people know that protein helps build muscle, but did you know that protein is also involved repairing your hair, skin, & nails? Technically, every organ in your body needs protein. In order to repair or grow properly cells need protein, and every organ is made up of cells, therefore every organ needs protein. Proteins are made up of long chains of Amino Acids. Amino Acids (there are two types of amino acids: non-essential and essential) are like little Lego blocks that are snapped together to create a larger object, the proteins. Essential amino acids are the ones you must ingest in order to get into your system, these are the most prominently discussed amino acids in the fitness industry (isoleucine, valine, leucine, tryptophan, threonine, methionine, arginine, lysine, histidine). Non-essential amino acids are the ones your body produces on its own.
In relation to exercise, the protein you eat is what helps your muscles repair after your workout (especially if you are training with me and those free weights). If you didn’t know, during your workout your muscles develop tiny micro-tears (picture your muscle fibers doing a Hulk Hogan shirt rip in front of the mirror, at least that’s what I do…). The protein shake you drink after your workout is then broken down into Amino Acids, which are then pushed off to your muscles through your blood stream and sent to those mini Hulk Hogans in your biceps. This arrival of amino acids is what helps those micro-tears repair and grow larger and stronger. Without the protein those muscles take a lot longer to repair, and you won’t get much muscle growth if you get any.
SO WHY IS YOUR TRAINER PUSHING PROTEIN? WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
#1) As stated above, getting enough protein is what helps your body recover after those tough, heavy, killer workouts. Do you really want to go through that workout and then not eat enough protein to actually take advantage of your progress? Eat your protein. Problem solved. Most people know the information about working out, muscle-building, and getting enough protein. Work out, eat protein, get muscles. Easy peasy.
#2) Eating more protein increases the fat burning in your body. Did you know that it takes longer for your body to digest protein than it does carbs or fats? Well you do now! Breaking down protein takes twice as much effort by your body in order to convert it to glucose, which is what your body uses for energy, than it does carbs or fats. Therefore it takes more energy to actually break it down, which means your body will be working harder and need to take energy away from your already stored fat. Boom! Eat protein, burn fat! Well, this is true, but it doesn’t take a huge amount of that stored energy away. So you may not notice it much after a week, but after a couple of months it will definitely add up to more fat loss! Remember, everything takes time in the fitness world.
#3) Eating protein gives you a feeling of Satiety. Satiation is the feeling of fullness. There are a few reasons behind this. The first is that the protein takes longer to digest and stays in your stomach for a longer period of time. Like I stated above, proteins take longer to digest, and if your stomach is full of food you won’t feel as hungry as soon. So eating a steak will keep you less hungry longer than eating a bowl of pasta. Reason number is that when you eat protein and it begins digestion there are certain hormones that get released in your body. I won’t bore you with these hormones, and to be honest I sound like an idiot trying to pronounce them… so we’ll skip over that. But, when the protein digest it sends out these hormones to your brain saying “I’m full!” and your body stops producing the hormones that tell you to eat. So eating protein overrides those chemicals that tell you to eat more, whereas eating something like a candy bar actually send those “I’m hungry!” signals and make you want to eat more.
The translation for these benefits comes out to this: Protein helps you build muscle and recover after those intense workouts. Protein Helps you burn more fat while increasing your satiety levels. And Protein keeps you fuller for a longer period of time, which in turn helps you eat fewer calories during the day. These all add up to helping your lean muscle mass increase, you eat less junk because you are eating more protein, and you will lose fat because your body is working to digest proteins and send them off to those muscles for repair.
Now get to that kitchen and cook that meat, or mix that protein shake because your inner Hulk Hogan is calling. 😉