I think we can all kind of agree the word 'protein' has a positive connotation. When you hear "protein", you think "good". Kind of like when you hear "sugar," you think "bad", and when you hear "fats", you get confused AF (or is that just me...?). Anyways, you're not wrong for thinking this. Protein is really, really good for you. But until I started Slate, I never really knew how good it was. Yes, I heard it got you jacked, which is every 16 year old boy's dream as they rip pushups in the basement while Ma cooks dinner. But helping to build muscles is just the start of it. Here are 5 reasons why protein is so important and you should be consuming more, proven by people way, way, WAY smarter than us:
1. Protein Helps Build Muscle.
So 16 year old me was right.. protein does help build muscle. According to Healthline "Protein is the building block of your muscles" and "plenty of protein can help increase muscle mass and strength." And if you just step back and think about it, it makes sense.
When you exercise, you're literally damaging your muscles, then rebuilding them - as explained well but somewhat annoyingly by this Ted-Ex YouTube video (start at 1:30). And if your muscles are - more or less - made up of protein, consuming more of it when they are broken will make them bigger and stronger. But remember, protein won't help you build muscle if you don't exercise. So whatever you do to get a sweat on, keep getting after it.
2. Protein Reduces Appetite and Hunger Levels
Ugh. That "nothing can make me full" feeling. We've all been there. You start feeling the broken up little chips at the bottom of the XL bag you just bought and realize what you've done. THAT'S BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT CONSUMING PROTEIN, SILLY.
According to Healthline, "fats, carbs, and protein affect your body in different ways" and "studies show that protein is by far the most filling". They go on to state "in one study, increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% of calories made overweight women eat 441 fewer calories each day without intentionally restricting anything."
What does this mean? If you consume protein, there's a likelihood you'll end up eating less calories overall. And why, you may ask?
According to Harvard Health "Protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates do, which explains why it can suppress appetite, but the study also suggests that the more protein you consume, the longer the effect may last."
So load up on that protein, Baby.
3. Protein Boosts Metabolism and Increases Fat Burning
This was bonkers to me when I heard. Not only does this nutrient help build muscle, but it can actually help lose weight?
According to WebMD (ever heard of 'em?) "Your body burns many more calories digesting protein than it does eating fat or carbohydrates." I thought this was pretty cool. Protein literally helps you burn calories by doing nothing. But then there's this...
According to Healthline, high protein intake "can amount to 80–100 more calories burned each day. In fact, some research suggests you can burn even more. In one study, a high-protein group burned 260 more calories per day than a low-protein group. That’s equivalent to an hour of moderate-intensity exercise per day."
Umm... what? Yes, we both read that correctly. 260 more calories per day. That's like... a lot of calories. Heck, I'll take 80 more calories burned each day. Protein is awesome.
4. Protein Helps Maintain Weight Loss
Diets are crazy, Man. I've always been told dieting does not work - and I think UCLA agrees because they have an article titled "Dieting does not work, UCLA researchers report". Here's the article. Love that title.
Anyways, from everything I've heard and read, dietitians, nutritionists, and psychologists usually recommend a well-balanced diet, instead. But what happens when you do lose that "final 10" you've been working at for months? How do you keep it off? Apparently, you guessed it, protein.
Because of the increase in metabolism, decrease in appetite, and calorie burn that comes from protein, it helps regaining lost weight.
According to Healthline, "A modest increase in protein intake has been shown to help with weight maintenance. In one study, increasing protein from 15% to 18% of calories reduced weight regain by 50%."
So find more ways to get protein in your diet to keep those stubborn lbs from comin' back!
5. Protein Is Good For Your Hair, Nails, and Bones
Hair, nails and bones. Fun fact: sounds like a 90s punk rock band. Also fun fact: all made up of protein.
According to Woman's Day "protein is important for providing the building blocks for growing strong hair and nails," while IOF states "adequate intake of dietary protein, together with calcium, is needed for optimal bone growth." Again, it just makes sense... seeing as they are all made of protein.
So if you want fingernails like Cardi B and flow like Jason Momoa, start putting back more protein. You'll be there in no time.
To sum up, protein is awesome. Drink more of it.
The Slate Milk Squad
Written by Manny Lubin, Co-Founder at Slate Milk
Primary Source: Healthline.