Protein is a macronutrient, which means it is needed by the body in large quantities. Our bodies need protein to develop, maintain, and grow. Our immune system, organs, hair, digestion, and so forth are all affected by protein. To put it simply, protein keeps our body healthy and functioning properly. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of protein.
The Importance and Benefits of Protein
Protein is needed to boost muscle mass as well as maintain healthy muscles in the body, support tendons, ligaments and body tissues. Lack of protein may result in muscle wasting. Protein takes longer to be broken down by the body, so it helps you feel full for longer and helps you manage your weight.
Protein helps keep your blood sugar levels stable and can actually reduce the speed sugar is metabolized, preventing blood sugar fluctuations. This can also help improve or maintain heart health. Amino acids found in proteins help balance hormones, reducing anxiety and helping to keep your mood stable.
Bone health is improved by foods high in protein due to the magnesium and calcium and other nutrients normally found in protein-rich foods. Proteins are used to make neurotransmitters, hormones, and enzymes in the body for better cognitive functions. Lack of these causes loss in concentration, poor learning, and coordination.
Protein also helps the body synthesize glutathione, a natural antioxidant which helps reduce carcinogens and toxins. This should improve longevity and slow the aging process. It also helps boost the immune system while maintaining muscle mass and supporting the bones. There are many other benefits of protein related to amino acids and enzymes that the body needs to create.
Protein requirements increase for people who are physically active, healing from injury, as well as in older adults. The optimal amount is 1g per pound of lean muscle mass. But it needs to be adjusted by 0.45g more for older people, 0.5g for people recovering from injury, and increased by 0.65g for active adults. Protein is especially important after exercise (especially strength training) to help repair any damage to muscle tissue.
What Are the Symptoms of Protein Deficiency?
Lack of protein can result in a slow metabolism, unstable blood sugar, mood swings, anxiousness, and trouble concentrating. You can also experience low energy levels, poorly functioning immune system, insomnia and sleep disturbances, difficulty in losing or maintaining weight, and problems trying to build or maintain muscle mass. Wounds may take longer to heal. You may also experience constipation, flatulence, and other digestive system upsets.
What Are the Best Sources of Protein?
Meats and fish are some of the most common sources of proteins, but as we support a vegan lifestyle, we recommend you choose other sources of protein. There are many vegan and vegetarian protein sources available that may be healthier. Seitan is a wheat gluten which is 3/4 protein; just 100g of this food can provide your entire daily protein requirement. Lentils are easy to add to your diet and are also high in protein. Add a scoop of peanut butter to your diet, as this nut butter can offer you 25g of protein per 100g you eat.
Hemp seed is easily digested, is an anti-inflammatory, and close to 23% of each serving is pure protein. Black beans are a great choice, especially for those with diabetes. They help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and are absorbed slowly. They are also high in fiber.
Snack on almonds and sunflower seeds for a quick protein boost or add them to your meal. Both of these foods are healthy protein sources. Tempeh is a great meat replacement, is low in sodium and cholesterol, and has close to 20% protein per serving.
Quinoa is a great gluten-free protein source. It is rich in nutrients and amino acids, as well as being full of minerals and high in fiber. Edamame is a green soybean containing isoflavones and healthy fats, as well as protein. Tofu, hummus, and kale all offer around 8g of protein per 100g and are perfect choices for a vegetarian protein source.
Non-vegans can add eggs, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese into their diets for meat-free protein sources as well.
It is important to eat protein to maintain or build muscle, as well as to keep the body in optimum health. Other benefits of protein include boosting your metabolic rate and reducing the need for carbohydrates to fuel the body. It is optimal to take in around 30% of your daily calories directly from protein sources.