Protein-rich foods make up a large part of our primary food groups and protein is one of the three vital macro nutrients that our body needs for survival. The other two nutrients include fats and carbohydrates.
There has now been a decent amount of research showing the benefits of eating large amounts of protein to lose weight and become healthier. However, we need a better understanding of how a protein diet works.
Protein has many uses in our body which we will soon discuss, but we also need to understand that we need the other two macro nutrients in our diet as well to live a balanced and healthy life. If you need to lose weight, a protein diet will work wonders but how do you cope with the potential ill-effects?
Let’s start off with some of the most prominent uses of protein in our bodies:
Uses of Protein
Proteins are made up of chains of amino acids. There are twenty-two different amino acids that our body needs for survival out of which we are supposed to take in 9 from external food sources because our body cannot manufacture them.
These proteins and amino acids are used for many different processes in the body, including:
Repair and Maintenance of Tissues:
The most significant use of protein in our bodies is that of tissue repair and maintenance. Tissues like our hair and nails are all made of proteins. When we take up a diet rich in protein, we are allowing these tissues to grow healthier and for repair of any tissues to go faster.
Your muscles are also made of protein and eating protein in a decent amount allows these muscles to grow healthier. Increasing muscle mass is one of the best ways to lose fat and become healthier.
Enzymes and Hormones:
Proteins make up our enzymes as well, and they are responsible for rapid reactions and functions of our body. Our hormones are under control of our enzymes and receptors, and better maintenance of these proteins allows hormone regulation which helps our body function as well as possible.
Our cells walls also contain proteins known as transport proteins which allow substances to go in and out of cells. Therefore, protein is also used for the maintenance of these transport channels in our body to ensure that our nutrients reach the right place.
Fat and carbohydrates are essential food sources in our body, but these two provide energy to our body and do not help with growth and repair.
If we eat more fat and carbohydrates than we need at a particular time, the excess stores in our body as fat. If we continue to eat a diet rich in carbs and fats, it becomes increasingly more complex to get rid of the deposits of fat that have already formed in our bodies.
We must not wholly forego consumption of fat and carbohydrates because there are many complications to that lifestyle. However, we can minimize their intake so that we get all the benefits we need and very few ill-effects.
How Does a High Protein Diet Work?
Protein causes growth and repair of the tissues in our bodies. It is not required to fulfill the energy needs of our organs.
When we stop eating carbs and fats, our body has no instant source of energy to turn to so that it can perform its daily tasks. Our daily intake of food will consist of only proteins and fiber both of which do not contain energy.
In this situation, the body will have no choice but to utilize the stores of fat that have accumulated in the body over time. When these fat deposits start getting used up, we will experience a drastic loss in our fat content and consequently, our weight.
When our body begins burning fat instead of carbs for energy, a process known as ketosis takes place. Ketosis is known for appetite suppression so you will not get the munchies every few hours like you would if you consumed carbs.
Other than that, protein also helps in building muscle mass in our body. Muscle mass is very dense and compact so you will not be losing more weight than you need to and your body will look toned and slender as well.
The Benefits of a High Protein Diet
There are many benefits you gain from a protein diet that enable you to live a healthy life with your target weight as well. Some of these benefits are:
We have already mentioned how the process of ketosis enables you to feel fuller. Eating a significant amount of protein generally allows you to feel fuller because most animal sources of protein are also rich in fat content and many vegetable sources of protein are rich in fiber.
Consumption of fat and fiber in large amounts is said to promote fullness. When you feel full, you will become less prone to munching on snacks between meals. You will also be able to keep your daily calories in check.
Increase in Muscle Mass:
The main issue with most diet plans we see nowadays is that they might get rid of muscle mass in the body instead of fat. Protein and muscle mass are the body’s second choice for energy release after carbohydrates.
Protein is used to build muscle, and this is why our muscle mass keeps replenishing, and we lose fat instead.
An increase in our body’s muscle mass will enable our body to metabolize the nutrients faster. A fast metabolism is all you need to stop weight gain.
Loss of Fat:
Lastly, the protein diet enables us to lose unnecessary fat in our body by burning it as a fuel which makes us healthy and sexy.
The Disadvantages of High Protein Diet
Since we are minimizing the use of two of our main dietary sources, it is evident that there will be some ill effects to a protein diet.
Kidney Stones, especially in people who choose animal protein over vegetable protein
How Should You Proceed With the High Protein Diet Plan
There are certain precautions we need to take so that we reap all the benefits of a protein diet without any complications coming our way.
Drink lots of water. Drinking water will prevent any kidney dysfunction that might come your way, and it will also prevent dehydration.
Keep an eye on the quality of the protein. It is crucial that you choose lean animal cuts for your protein diet, like lean beef, chicken, and fish such as tuna. Also, include vegetable sources of protein in your diet so that you get the advantages of all food groups. Animal proteins do not contain vitamins, and antioxidants like vegetables do, and vegetable proteins do not include all the essential amino acids that our body needs.
Do not cut off fat and carbohydrates entirely because they are necessary for your body to function well.
Eat lots of fiber in your diet so that your bowel movements remain sound and your liver, stomach, and intestines remain healthy too.
Sara is a psychologist by profession and she loves massage therapies. She enjoys home-based work and traveling. She is obsessed with massage chair therapies and other relaxing techniques. Read her post here on the difference between reflexology and massage therapy.