Prefer to listen to this article instead?

(About 4 minutes in length)

Let’s talk about Tiffany. Tiffany wants to look “toned”. So, she wants to change her body composition by losing body fat and gaining muscle. To ensure Tiffany can build muscle, she has to consume enough protein and the right ratios of macronutrients in her diet to obtain this goal.

If she desires to get that toned look and change her body composition, her body and muscles need to be fed an adequate amount of protein. If she doesn’t get the right nutrients, Tiffany’s diet will result in what I like to call the “skinny fat” look…where she lost weight, but not body fat. She may be temporarily happy with what the number on the scale says, but she will not be pleased with what she sees in the mirror. Tiffany may also notice she bruises a lot more and is getting groggy throughout the day.

You might not think that protein has a role to play in Tiffany’s situation, but an increase in her protein intake is something that will make a large difference for her.

When you think of protein, what do you think of? Meat, dairy, fish, and eggs are all some different examples you may think of on the top of your head. Protein plays a large role in our bodies; and it’s actually what we (as humans) are composed of and plays a crucial part in our physiological processes.

Let’s look at five very important ways protein serves our bodies to see how crucial it is to consume enough every day. 

1. Recovery

Protein is primarily used for building structures in our body. You have probably seen people drinking protein shakes post-workout. You may wonder, why do they do that? Protein is not going to “blow you up” and make you huge. Rather, protein helps your muscles recover post workout and helps rebuild the structures (muscle tissue) you have torn apart during your intense workout.

According to John Berardi and Ryan Andrews (authors of Precision Nutrition); 1g of protein per pound of body-weight is recommended for anyone participating in high intensity training. The minimum one needs to consume when sedentary should be .8g of protein per kg of body mass.

2. Hormone and Enzyme Formation

Protein plays a large component in forming specific hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters in our body. Specific proteins in our bodies are used to make hormones (such as insulin or human growth hormone).

Protein is also used for enzyme formation. Enzymes speed up the chemical reactions in our bodies, as well as increase the transportation of oxygen and other substances throughout our body.

3. Immune Function:

Protein can substantially increase your immune system and how it functions. Unique white blood cells called lymphocytes are what forms antibodies and can protect us from harmful substances. These cells are what regulates and distinguishes normal chemicals in our bodies from harmful ones. If you are not taking in an adequate amount of protein; you may experience what’s called anergy. Anergy is the lack of proper immune response to foreign compounds.

Eating more protein can help protect your immune system and help fight off any viruses and bacteria!

4. Satiety

Protein can be great for helping increase satiety (feeling full and satisfied) in someone’s daily intake, especially when calorie consumption is low during times of fat loss and increased energy expenditure. Specific peptides in foods signal receptors to our brain from our gut.

Next, glucose is released and we start to feel satisfied from our meal. Research states that higher protein diets can increase thermogenesis (fat burning) more so than carbs and fat. Protein has a substantial effect on muscle anabolism during low energy consumptions, so it’s important that one consumes an effective amount of protein every day to increase satiety and decrease muscle catabolism.

5. Making new glucose:

In times when energy expenditure (activity) is high and energy consumption (food) is low (specifically from carbohydrates and other byproducts) new glucose can be made from the protein we’re consuming. This is called gluconeogenesis.

This means the generation of new glucose in our bodies. Our bodies are in two states at all times: FED or FASTED. In a fasted state when there is no supply from the glucose we consume, our bodies will make glucose from whatever is available in our bodies so we can maintain a constant blood glucose level.

The human body is so cool, right!?

Are you getting enough protein in your diet? If you have specific questions, I’d love to help you. Reach out in our Fit Me Forever Facebook group!

FREE Nutrition eCourse

Stop dieting and start your journey of learning how to be “forever fit”.  

In this course you will be given the tools to:

  • Find a sustainable approach to nutrition
  • Create a realistic fitness goal for yourself
  • Become mindful and "in tune" with your body