Protein is one of the three macronutrients that are essential to humans. This article will explain how much protein we should have as well as reasons to increase your daily protein intake.
Research points to the benefits of consuming a moderate amount of protein, about 0.8-1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or approximately 10-35% of your daily caloric intake (1).
The following sections will list and explain 5 reasons to increase your daily protein intake:
1. Increased Satiety
We all have experienced feeling ravenous an hour after eating. While there could be many factors at play, a common culprit is inadequate protein. A low-protein meal may cause a quick return to stomach-grumbling hunger.
Protein plays a key role in satiety. For one, it takes longer to break down and digest, meaning we can stay fuller for longer. Additionally, protein increases the production of a hormone in the gut called peptide YY, which reduces our body’s hunger hormone signaling after eating (2).
As a result of increased satiety, people may be satisfied with less food, helping to manage a healthy weight.
A plethora of things contribute to a strong immune system such as good sleep, a healthy diet, and exercise. However, when it comes to diet, getting enough protein is important for supporting the immune system.
When protein is digested, it is broken down into amino acids. Amino acids are necessary to fuel the body’s immune cells such as T cells, B cells, and antibodies. Without adequate protein, these cells would not be able to carry out their jobs of fighting off germs and killing off harmful cells.
Athletes and gym goers should increase their protein intake to approximately 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight daily (3). Everyone has different needs, so some individuals may do best with less protein than this, while others might require a bit more.
Focusing on muscle recovery is just as important as focusing on gains. Without appropriate rest and recovery, the body’s muscles wouldn’t be able to perform as well due to increased soreness and fatigue. Protein is also important in the recovery process. So yes, even on rest days, athletes should consider keeping a relatively high protein intake to nourish fatigued muscles.
In addition to helping you feel full, protein can help support good energy levels.
Protein helps slow the absorption of sugar in your bloodstream, thereby preventing a blood sugar crash.
When we eat a meal high in carbohydrates without other nutrients to slow the absorption of glucose, blood sugar spikes and then crashes, resulting in a drop in energy.
It’s a good rule of thumb to pair carbohydrates with protein consistently throughout the day to help sustain good energy throughout the day and keep blood sugar levels more even.
Lastly, consuming enough protein is important for maintaining strong bones. Did you know that about 50% of bone is actually made from protein?
Protein not only helps support the structure of the bone, but it also increases calcium absorption in the intestines. When we absorb more calcium, more calcium is available in the body to support bone health.
Without enough protein, calcium can leach from bones which over time can lead to weaker and more brittle bones (4).
There are many ways to increase protein in your diet.
Aim to get about 20-30 grams of high-quality protein at each meal, and perhaps more with the addition of protein-rich snacks.
High-quality protein can include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, or soy products. Plant-based sources of protein are also a good option such as from beans and legumes.
There are also many protein supplements that make it super simple to increase protein intake, whether you’re at home or on-the-go.
During the holidays and winter months, it can be difficult to stay on top of protein goals.
Something like the hot chocolate protein powder from Naked Nutrition is a tasty and seasonal protein supplement that will make it easy to reach your goals.
Providing 20 grams of pea protein per serving, and only 3 grams of sugar, it’s a delicious blend that you’ll crave. Simply mix the powder with milk or water and a bit of ice, and you’ll have a delicious, protein-rich shake for any time and anywhere this holiday season.