Updated: Aug 3
As we’re sure you’ve heard from every food advertisement, nutritionist, and social media influencer, protein is important. In our opinion, protein is actually the most important nutritional component to focus on, after calories!
No matter what your health and fitness goals are, a high amount of protein will likely be key in helping you reach them!
Individuals looking to build muscle
This is the main group that people think about when considering the benefits of protein.
When you exercise, you undergo muscle protein breakdown, as well as send a signal to your system to build more muscle. Protein is key in supporting recovery of broken down muscle, as well as helping your system adapt and build new tissue. Without an adequate amount of protein, your weight lifting will produce little to no results in terms of gaining muscle, and will only result in a constant state of being unrecovered. Therefore, without adequate protein, you’ll simply never be able to build a substantial amount of muscle.
Individuals looking to lose weight
When it comes to weight loss, calories are by far the most important thing to focus on. Weight loss purely stems from being in a calorie deficit. However, protein is still very important for supporting you in losing weight.
First, protein is extremely satiating. This means that protein will make you feel full for a long time. This is incredibly important for helping you stick to your calorie deficit, and not feel excessive hunger.
Protein also increases your total daily energy expenditure! Thermic effect of food is the amount of calories it takes to digest and absorb your nutrients. Compared to the other two macronutrients, carbohydrates and fat, protein has a very high thermic effect of food. Will the added energy expenditure from this be ground breaking? No. However, it isn’t nothing. For every 100 calories of protein consumed, you will burn around 20 extra calories from your thermic effect of food.
The last major benefit of protein for individuals losing weight is that it is key for muscle retention. When you lose weight, it is inevitable that some portion of it will come from muscle mass. If you have a diet high in protein, you can minimize the amount of muscle loss. Since most people want to lose fat mass, not muscle mass, this is very important for your body composition.
Individuals looking to improve their health
For overall health, protein is about as magic of a nutrient as they come.
Protein is overall great for body composition. Having good health is highly correlated with body composition. This means if you have less body fat (to a degree), and more muscle (to a degree), you’ll be healthier! Having a healthy body composition is related to many positive health outcomes, and limits the risk of almost every health ailment. By protein helping you to gain a better body composition, it in turn will improve almost every aspect of your health.
Protein is also very important to help reduce the negative effects of aging. Sarcopenia (decrease in muscle mass with age) and osteoporosis (weakening of bones) can both be mitigated with high protein intake. Protein also helps with connective tissue strength. This means protein will help your body function better, all the way into your senior years. Stronger muscles, bones and connective tissue will help you move better, improve your quality of life, and decrease injury risk.
No matter what your fitness goals are, protein can help, either directly or indirectly.
If you have health conditions which affect your kidneys or liver, you should consult a physician before increasing your protein intake. If you don’t, now that you know the benefits of protein, read our protein consumption blog to learn how to maximize those benefits!
Kurtis Proksch, CSCS, CNC, PTS
Head Strength Coach