Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Importance of Protein

A lot of women (and men for that matter) perceive high-protein foods as being fattening — or something that only weight-lifters blend and chug before pumping iron. But the truth is protein not only burns calories as you eat but it also makes you feel full faster. Bet you can't say that three times fast! (feel full faster!)

We still live in a generation where skinny is still perceived as ideal. But that misconception is slowly changing and it's about time too! Fit Is In and protein in your diet is essential to develop and maintain muscle. Even lean muscle - not just the Mr. Universe kind!

I've recently been trying to get back into shape after a long hiatus of having kids and having absolutely no time to do anything for myself. In addition to regular exercise, I've been taking dietary supplements and drinking protein shakes to make sure that I actually take in the amount of protein that I should. Another added benefit of protein shakes is that they serve as meal replacements. Great for not only those that wish to shed a few pounds but they also serve as mad dash-type meals that you can grab and run - quick and healthy.  Just pour into a cup and go!

Over the recent weeks, I've found out some very interesting information. Did you know that the amount of muscle you have determines how many calories you burn everyday in a resting state - even while sleeping? Each pound of muscle you have burns approximately 14 calories per day at rest.

My research suggests that an average adult should be taking in 1 gram of protein per pound of lean muscle or lean body mass (LBM). So if you are in a state of trying to get fit and alter your physique/shape, basically this number will be in flux a bit. If you are a body builder and trying to load up on the muscle, you should be taking in 1.5 grams of protein per pound of LBM. This is why I've included protein shakes to my diet. I simply don't eat enough lean protein in the form of meats, etc. And the shakes I've been drinking are damn tasty too. Win/Win!

So what is LBM? Lean Body Mass is simply an estimation of how much you weigh without your body fat - how much only your bones, organs, and muscles weigh. What you would do is weigh yourself and then figure our your body fat percentage. LBM is your body weight after you've subtracted your body fat in pounds. Here's a site that can help with that.

Another thing regarding muscle versus fat. I've always believed that muscle weighs more than fat. So I was confused when I read that was not true. The deal is that a pound of muscle does weigh exactly the same as a pound of fat. 

Just the same as a pound of pennies weigh the same as a pound of sponges. Or say, the same as a pound of feathers weighs exactly the same as a pound of ore. Get it? The difference is the VOLUME between muscle and fat. Muscle is denser while fat takes up more room.

A pound of fat will take up about 18% more space then a pound of muscle. If squeezed into cans (it's okay to mutter "gross" here), you would need a can 18% bigger to contain the pound of fat. Also, muscle wraps tightly to the skeletal structure of your body whereas fat hangs loosely. You can find two people of the same build and height who weigh the same but appear vastly different based on their LBM.

So back to what we were originally talking about - the importance of protein. Protein starts to work on your waistline immediately. High-protein foods take more work to digest, metabolize, and use. This means that you burn more calories processing them. They also take longer to leave your stomach, so you feel full faster (yep - there's that tongue twister again) and for a longer amount of time. The cumulative effect has obvious benefits for anyone who is watching their weight.

In a study published in Nutrition Metabolism, dieters who increased their protein intake to 30 percent of their diet ate nearly 450 fewer calories a day and lost about 11 pounds over a 12-week study without doing anything other than adding protein to their diet.  Want some good ways to add that protein into your meal-planning?  Here are 12 recipes that are high in protein and are assured to fill you up while fueling your metabolism.

So if you're burning calories with exercise as well as calorie-counting through diet, protein is doubly essential for making sure you lose fat and not muscle. Your body uses the amino acids in protein to build lean muscle, which not only makes you stronger and more toned but also burns calories even when you're sitting on the couch or sleeping.

Want to read more about protein? Check this article.


  1. Anonymous8:27 PM

    Sweet Jenine!! Thanks for the handy science!

  2. :) Took me quite a while to get it through my thick skull that protein = GOOD!

  3. I'm trying to be better with protein. I've been doing my shake in the morning and one in the afternoon. But it's making it a habit :)

  4. This is one of the things I've learned on my healing journey-Protein is not as bad as people think; in fact, it may just be the answer!

    I've been on a high protein diet{which I REALLY need to go back to} and I've noticed the weight dropping and my body slimming down.

    My mom even scared the bejezzus outta me one day when she squealed, "YOU'RE SO PETITE!!! Look at your tummy!! I want a tummy like that!" LOL

    This is a wonderful informative post Jenine :)

  5. WTG, Alexes!

    Thanks a bunch, Kayla! Maybe writing it all out will get it to sink in further with me and enlighten others. At least that was my thought. :)

  6. It's funny that we sort of have it ingrained in us, but I agree..once I started on more lean protein, it was much easier to slim down and tone up.


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