The recommended daily macronutrient intake from the Food & Drug Administration for the typical American diet consists of 65 grams of fat, 300 grams of carbohydrates, and 50 grams of protein. Despite what the FDA advocates for a balanced diet, countless Americans disregard these suggestions and subsequently suffer numerous cases of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and other diet-oriented disorders from consuming excess calories and favoring one macronutrient over another – namely carbs or fat.
In contrast, it has been proven that a high-protein diet consisting of 1 to 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight (while keeping carbohydrates and fats within an individual’s caloric limitations and maintaining a constant healthy intake of water) is incredibly beneficial for one’s health, not only by preventing the aforementioned ailments from occurring but by promoting a holistically healthier body, elevating weight loss, increasing muscular tissue growth, and serving as an alternative fuel source as well.
The Basics of Protein
Beginning with the basics, protein is an essential nutrient for proper bodily function. It provides the structural building blocks (amino acids) for countless physiological mechanisms, including: healthy bone, hair, hormone, skin and tendon development, improved sleep rates, lower blood pressure, and improved mental cognition. In contrast, the typical American diet is extremely carbohydrate and fat-oriented, and when these macronutrients are consumed in excess the body tends to develop a higher body fat percentage as a result of the extra blood sugar and energy storage, respectively.
The Benefits of a High Protein Diet
After many in-depth analyses, high-protein diets have exemplified countless benefits for the body, including improved weight loss. One of the most thermic macronutrients, dietary protein requires the greatest amount of energy in order to be broken down and digested by the enzymes within the human body, as opposed to the simple breakdown and absorption of glucose (carbohydrates) and lipids (fats). This in turn requires the body to expend a greater amount of energy in order to fully digest a high-protein diet, leading to a greater net total of calories burned on a daily basis – more specifically, a constantly elevated metabolic rate.
Assuming the dieter is consuming enough calories to remain within their Basal Metabolic limitations, with an increased caloric burn the body will eventually resort to burning stored body fat as energy, leading to an all-around caloric deficit and a leaner body composition (i.e. a lower body fat percentage). In addition to increased caloric expenditure, high-protein consumption has been shown to increase and prolong mental senses of satiety, influencing its consumers to collectively eat less food throughout the day. This can prevent binge eating later on in the evening and can ultimately lead to a lesser amount of body fat, specifically in the abdominal and oblique regions.
High Protein For Increase In Muscle
If an increased metabolism was not beneficial enough, high-protein consumption, whether paired with or without a regimented weight-training program, has been proven to promote increases in lean muscle mass. Because protein is composed of branch-chain amino acids, it is only logical that an increase in protein consumption has a positive correlation with muscular development due to the physiological composition of muscle tissue (which constitutes primarily of amino acids).
When muscular gains occur, muscle tissue subsequently increases in size, and since muscle tissue is more metabolically active than body fat, the more muscle mass one has equates to a greater amount of calories burned by an individual. For example, a standard sedentary person may on average burn 2,000 calories a day, but a veteran bodybuilder may require a bare minimum of 5,000 calories on his non-training days simply because his body is composed of such a greater percentage of muscle tissue.
High Protein Diet For Energy
Finally, protein can alternatively be utilized as fuel in times of energy deficit as well. In times when the body lacks glycogen or stored energy in the form of adipose tissue, the body can undergo the process of gluconeogenesis and proceed to break down the amino acid profile of ingested proteins, subsequently using them as metabolic fuel. This process can be incredibly beneficial to those looking to lose weight, as they will undoubtedly be restricting either their carbohydrate or their fat intake (both of which serve as primary energy sources), or it can be beneficial for those who simply just do not seem to fare well with a higher carbohydrate or fat diet – either way, undergoing gluconeogenesis is an energy mechanism that can most definitely be put to good use.
High-protein diets, despite not being encouraged by the FDA or being the standard diet for the American population, have been proven to be incredibly healthy in a variety of ways. Through the satisfaction of essential bodily requirements, increased weight loss, improved muscular growth, and the providing of a clean alternative energy source, protein is an essential macronutrient that should be consumed in larger quantities by the general population in order to reap its numerous health benefits.
Whether you are a dieter, a bodybuilder, an alternative fuel-seeking individual, or simply a person eager to improve their health, a high-protein diet is an unparalleled way to approach a new-found health venture. However, if you suffer from kidney problems or any other health issue, consult your doctor before beginning a high protein diet.