Protein and You
Protein and You
Why is Protein Good for Me?
Unlike extra fat that can be stored easily on our bums and bellies, protein is always being used by the body for build and repair. All the enzymes, cell structure, all hair and fingernails, most component of the muscle, bone and organs, as well as many hormones are made of mostly protein.
The more you weigh, the more protein you need? TRUE ! If you are counting calories, 10 - 15% of a day’s total calories should come from protein sources.
There are times when you need higher protein intake, in situations when you are an athlete, physically more active through workouts, injured or sick, pregnant or breastfeeding, going through puberty or is an older adult above 65 as it is easier to lose both muscle and bone mass.
Following a high protein diet didn’t cause any short term health problems in clinical studies.
There are few myths about eating protein that needs to be clarified.
#1. High protein diet causes kidney damage (Myth).
There is a difference between avoiding protein because your kidneys are already damaged (true) and protein actively damaging healthy kidneys (myth).
For people with healthy kidneys, protein hasn’t been shown to cause kidney damage, just like the theory of how jogging isn’t going to suddenly snap your leg like a twig, unless your leg is already broken from the start.
High protein diets do produce more metabolic waste to be excreted in the urine, so it’s very important to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
#2. High protein diet causes osteoporosis (Myth).
Eating more protein without increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables intake will increase the amount of calcium lost in urine, but this is not the same as losing bone calcium! In actual fact, a lack of protein in meals for long term will cause more bone loss, as bones are made up of a large portion of collagen-type proteins.
Similarly to muscles that is an active tissue undergoing build, repair and break down, same goes to bones! Thus, good amount of protein in food, coupled with an additional resistance/ strength training exercise is fantastic for bone health.
#3. High protein diet causes cancer (No strong evidence).
There isn’t any strong evidence in stating that protein causes cancer, due to many confounding factors. For instance, meat consumption sourced from natural or processed meat, as well as protein are either plant or animal-based. Even the methods frequently used to cook protein in food are also important factors. There are still many researches that have to be done for a strong conclusion.
#4. High protein diet causes heart disease (Depends)
There is a limited evidence that protein causes heart disease and the source of protein is a major confounding factor whether it is a plant-based or animal-based protein (which could also be high in saturated fats that are bad for the heart).
If you are also exposed to other risk factors, for example, obesity, not physically active, smoking, frequent alcohol-drinker, history of high blood pressure and low fiber intake in daily meals.
However, plant-based protein are associated with lower risk of heart disease. Do take note that animal-based protein are always more complete if compared to plant-based types, thus having a wide variety of various protein sources (lentils, tofu, eggs, beans, legumes, milk) is important in a vegetarian diet.
#5. High protein diet is useful during weight management (Fact).
Satiety (feeling of fullness) hormones are released in the gut, stimulated by protein, thus there will be a tendency to eat less of other food when you eat more protein, at the same time keeping you feel full for a longer duration. When you are reducing overall food consumption intake during a stricter diet in combination with an exercise plan, do not skimp on protein as it helps to maintain and improve lean muscle mass while your body undergoes fat loss. If watching your diet, do pay attention to the cooking method used, if it’s laden with oil or coated with flour/ breadcrumbs before frying. Also note to pick lean meat, instead of fatty cuts.