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You may think a high protein diet only benefits those who weightlift and want to build muscles. However, consuming high protein foods do more for you than you may realize.
For certain people, consuming a diet rich in foods high in protein is beneficial.
What Does Protein Do for Your Body?
Proteins are molecules that are in every cell in the human body. They’re known as the “building blocks of life” and perform multiple functions within your body.
These molecules are necessary to repair cells and form new ones. Protein is necessary for growth and development, immune function, and sugar regulation.
Within each protein molecule are hundreds or thousands of smaller units known as amino acids. Twenty different types of amino acids exist, and they classify into one of three groups:
- Essential amino acids – come from the food you eat.
- Nonessential amino acids – located in your body and break down proteins
- Conditional amino acids – necessary during illness or stress
How Much Protein Do You Need?
Typically, an average diet requires 100 grams of protein each day if you’re consuming a 2,000-calorie diet. Generally, at least 10 to 35 percent of your overall calories should come from protein. A high protein diet requires you to consume a majority of calories from protein.
Although some diets have you cut most of your carbohydrates, you want to incorporate only nutrient-rich, whole-grain carbohydrates. You still receive all the nutrition you need for energy but without the extra calories.
Incorporating Foods High in Protein Into Your Diet
As a general rule, a majority of foods high in protein have seven grams of protein per ounce. Some prime examples of high protein foods include the following:
- 1 large egg
- 1 ounce of fish or poultry
- ½ cup cooked beans
- 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
Other good sources of protein are:
- Turkey or chicken without skin
- Top sirloin, round, or tenderloin steak or pork
- Kidney beans
- Split peas
- Black beans
- Low-fat cottage cheese
What Are the Benefits of a High Protein Diet?
Although you do benefit from a protein-rich diet if you weightlift, consuming a diet high in proteins is beneficial for other reasons.
One example is that you might lose weight from this type of diet because it fills you up. You have less desire to snack in between meals, so you reduce your caloric intake.
Proteins are also necessary for glowing skin, muscle repair, strong bones, memory, movement, and shiny hair.
You may notice a change in your energy level from this variety of diet because protein is a macronutrient. Your body stores energy from protein.
Certain proteins provide other benefits. Fish, for example, is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial to your heart. They may help lower your blood pressure and reduce your chances of heart disease, arthritis, and cancer.
When you maintain a high-protein diet, you decrease water weight and bloating.
Who Benefits from a Benefit of a High Protein Diet?
People who are prone to gaining weight may want to try this type of diet. It minimizes muscle loss while preventing hunger.
If you currently eat foods high in fat and other unhealthy ingredients, you benefit from changing to a diet low in carbohydrates but rich in amino acids. With this particular diet, you receive more nutrients than you currently receive. By switching to nutrient-rich foods, you can reduce your risk of high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Those who are middle-aged benefit from this diet because as you age, you lose muscle mass. You can replenish some of what you lost by consuming foods loaded with amino acids. When you choose proteins low in fat, you can improve your cholesterol and risk of heart disease.
Dangers of a Diet High in Proteins
Like with most diets, there are risks of a high protein diet. For example, you still have to eat carbohydrates for energy. You can’t eliminate carbs completely or you risk a nutrient deficiency.
Although you lose weight quickly on a high protein diet, it’s likely you’ll gain the weight back. It does help reduce the amount of water weight you have, but once you switch back to your normal weight, you gain that weight back.
Selecting foods high in fat like whole milk and fatty cuts of meat can elevate your cholesterol levels. A high protein diet can also lead to kidney stones because you urinate more calcium. You place more strain on your kidneys on this type of diet, so if you already have issues with this organ, you should avoid this diet.
While it’s always important to consult a physician before starting a diet, this particular one is safe for most people. By eating foods necessary for so many body functions, you better your overall health and might even lose weight at the same time.