In a previous article here on BroBible, I talked about the importance of counting your macronutrients if you want to burn fat and build muscle. Well, in the next few articles we are going to be discussing each one in detail and talk about how it can help you, or hurt you, when it comes to reaching your goals.
Today we are going to talk about protein…
Protein has an energy density of 4 calories per gram and is probably the most important of all the macronutrients.
The body needs protein to maintain, grow, and repair itself. Nearly everything in our bodies, our hair, skin, nails, muscles, organs, are all made up of protein. And these proteins are made up of amino acids.
There are 20 amino acids that the body needs to survive and function. Of those 20, 9 cannot be produced by the body, so we must get them from our food. These are known as essential amino acids. These amino acids are used to build and repair tissue. Without them your body, and you, could not exist.
High protein diets have shown to be very effective for weight loss. This is because of the effect protein has on satiety and energy expenditure. It takes the body more time and energy to digest a gram of protein than any other macronutrient. The longer the digestion process takes, the longer we feel satiated, or full. The body also burns more calories digesting protein, meaning the more protein you eat the more calories you burn.
Protein also effects certain hormones, specifically improving leptin sensitivity. Leptin helps regulate body fat levels and having poor sensitivity to leptin is one of the reasons people who are overweight tend to stay overweight. When leptin sensitivity increases the body goes to work by decreasing hunger and increasing energy expenditure.
When it comes to top-notch protein sources, you cannot beat good old fashion dead animal flesh. Sorry vegetarians, but its true. Gram for gram, meat provides more protein than any other naturally occurring food source. When it comes to choosing good protein sources, beef, poultry, pork, shellfish and other fishies are going to be your best bet.
Some sources of protein are going to be fattier than others, so you need to take that into consideration. These cuts of meat will take up a lot of your daily fat macros as well, meaning you have to be careful when choosing your protein source. If you decide to eat fattier cuts of meat like ribeye, chicken legs and thighs, or salmon, you need to reduce your dietary fat intake from other sources.
Some good non-meat protein sources include eggs, egg whites, non-fat milk, cottage cheese and protein powder. Foods like legumes, nuts, and seeds also contain protein but not in as high of quantities.
To say that protein is important is an understatement. Aim for a diet where at least 30% of your calories come from protein. This is a good starting point.
Stay tuned for the next installment of the Know Your Macros series where we discuss carbohydrates.