Importance of Protein!!
This time of year seems to conspire against the best of us when it comes to EATING. The daily sugar temptations provide momentary satisfaction that gives quickly to feelings of shame, lower energy, depressed mood, and sadly, a repeat cycle of more sugar. Combined with shorter days, less sunlight, and sub-optimal sleep habits, many of us find ourselves on a slippery sugar slope. January 1st rolls around and we feel like we are in our worst shape of the year, desperate to get back on track.
Well, before January rolls around, I wanted to offer you a way to mitigate the carb/sugar spiral. This tip of the day can be captured in one word: PROTEIN.
Protein, protein, the magical macro, the more you eat it the more you ..... WIN! For today I'm going to stick to protein in the context of how it can help mitigate the overeating, cravings, weight gain, and energy/hunger dysregulation of the holidays.
Before we dive deeper, you might be wondering why PROTEIN gets so much attention when it comes to diet advice. You will see below that there are a myriad of reasons why protein is valuable for health and weight management from a physiological perspective. But I'd like to add another perspective about protein, and that comes through the lens of looking at our food industry. The overwhelming majority of quick and convenient food options in our modern world come in the form of carbohydrates and fat, usually in combination with one another. With the exception of some specialty markets and health food stores, there are very few quick and convenient protein options that are marketed well and sold to consumers. You can grab sugar and processed vegetable oils at every turn of the aisle (chips, crackers, bagged snacks, etc). So a conversation about the importance of protein is necessary to help bring balance back into the equation. We are bombarded by easy to consume, hyper palatable (CRACK-LIKE DELICIOUSNESS), carbs and fat. One more thing of note is that there are almost ZERO natural sources of food that combine FAT and CARBS in the natural world. With the exception of milk (Carb, Fat, and Protein) almost all other foods come in the form of Carb, Carb/Protein, Protein/Fat, or Fat. The modern food system has us eating pretty backwards, and our practical protein review today is meant to help get you refocused on eating your P!
3 of my TOP reasons why everyone should start with protein:
1. Protein Can Increase Your Metabolism (“Calories Out”)
Digesting and metabolizing protein burns calories - this isn't going to make up a massive amount of your daily calories, but the simple act of digesting protein will require some caloric burn. When compared to Fat and Carbs, an increase in Protein consumption can account for anywhere from 100-300+ extra calories burned a day, just from choosing protein over the other two macros.
2. Protein Reduces Appetite, Cuts Cravings and Reduces Desire for Late-Night Snacking
If you've ever had a late night craving hit (and if you are a human you most certainly have), then you know they are just about impossible to resist. So your best defense against them is to prevent them from ever happening. One of the best tools for this is adequate protein consumption, particularly in the early part of the day. Set yourself up for a winning evening by getting your protein in early!