From weight loss to muscle gain, protein is crucial in our diets. Whilst this is common knowledge and many of us strive to increase our intake in various ways, how much do you actually know about the science behind this macronutrient?
To expand your nutrition knowledge and keep you in the know, here are 6 fun facts about protein...
1) Our body is made up of more protein than you’d think
A statement you hear again and again is ‘over 50% of our bodies are made up of water’ which is true, but did you know protein makes up 17% of our bodies? All of the protein within our bodies has a function and none of it gets stored. Fat, on the other hand, does get stored in the form of adipose tissue, as do carbs in the form of glycogen.
2) High protein keeps you fuller for longer
Many studies have proven that eating protein can help to keep hunger at bay because it takes longer in our bodies to digest. Start with a high protein breakfast and this will set you up for the day ahead, enabling you to reach lunch time without reaching for the office cakes and biscuits. Eggs are a great way to ensure you get a high intake of protein in your first meal of the day. Try and keep clear of sugar in the mornings too as this is likely to raise your blood sugar early on.
3) High protein diet will aid fat loss
People tend to associate protein with body builders, gyms and huge muscles. However if you are aiming to lose body fat then protein will most certainly help do so! Eating a high protein diet will not only help with your appetite as mentioned above but it plays a big part in retaining muscle whilst trying to lose weight. The more muscle you can retain whilst trying to lose weight, the more calories your body will burn, making it a lot easier to achieve your goal.
If you want to lose weight, aim for a daily protein intake of around 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Athletes and heavy exercisers should consume 2.2-3.4 grams of protein per kilogram if aiming for weight loss.
4) High protein diet helps build muscle
Amongst other variables, a high protein diet will also help you build muscle. Paired with the right training and diet, protein is the building block in helping muscles grow. This is often why people associate protein with body builders, gyms and large biceps. If your goal is to build muscle then start aiming for protein at every meal. Do also bear in mind that increasing protein into your diet will not instantly make you bulky and muscly – a common misconception.
5) Protein is a macronutrient, therefore energy
Protein, like fat and carbohydrates, is a macronutrient. All foods are made up of these macronutrients and therefore energy. Each gram of protein contains 4 calories that fuel our body’s day in day out. Carbohydrates are the same; they also have 4 calories for each gram consumed. Fats, on the other hand, contain 9 calories per gram.
6) Protein helps our body function
Our body needs 22 amino acids to function, 13 of these our body can create by itself – these are known as non-essential amino acids. The remainder comes from our diet, known as essential amino acids. Foods containing the remaining amino acids (essential amino acids) come in forms of complete or incomplete protein sources.