Why we love protein

4 April 2014 by
First published: 4 April 2014

There’s no denying that protein is God in health and fitness circles. Find out what all the fuss is about and why we love protein too.

The macronutrient should be consumed at every meal, and is important whether you’re trying to lose weight, tone up or boost health. ‘Whatever your reasons for eating protein, make sure your intake is varied,’ says sports scientist and co-founder of The Protein Works, Ross Edgley. ‘Solely eating one source will mean that you’re getting the same amino acid profile over and over again. So try to eat plenty of fish, moderate amounts of red meat, white meat and if you’re struggling to meet your elevated protein requirements, a quality protein powder, too.’

Still confused about how protein could help you? Find out more below.

1.    It could get you closer to your weight-loss goals
It’s pretty tough to lose weight when you’re always hungry. But a decent amount of protein at each meal could help you stay fuller, which means you’re less likely to sabotage your weight loss by giving into cravings. ‘Not only does protein keep you more satiated than carbohydrates or fats, but different protein sources have been found to have unique fat-loss promoting properties,’ explains Ross. ‘Whey protein has a ‘thermic’ effect, meaning the body actually uses up calories to digest it, while casein protein contains high levels of the amino acid phenylalanine, which helps regulate the brain’s ability to know when it’s full.’

2.    It helps you recover from exercise
Everyone always goes on about how it’s important to get enough protein post-workout, and this is true. It helps your muscles to repair – whether you’re looking to get fitter or stronger – so that you’ll actually benefit from all your hard work at the gym and be well enough for your next session. ‘People who strength train need protein for the muscles to grow as well as repair,’ says Ross. ‘But endurance athletes also need it to prevent the body from entering a catabolic state in which the muscles begin to break down. If this happens, you can get sick and injured.’

3.    It can improve immunity
While the power of protein is often referred to when discussing exercise, it’s also important for a healthy immune system, and a good amount of it in your diet can help fight illness. ‘Protein malnutrition is associated with a significant impairment of cell-mediated immunity and cytokine production,’ explains Ross. ‘This mainly refers to circulating white blood cells whose chief function is to protect the body against microorganisms causing disease. Put simply, without enough protein, these are unable to work efficiently if the body is under attack from foreign bacteria.’

Find out how to get more protein in your diet here.