Every year thousands of men and women commit to the New Year’s resolutions of “building muscle” and “losing weight”. Unfortunately, many of these men and women fail. One of the main reasons for this failure is that they don’t have a proper plan when it comes to “building muscle” or “losing weight”.
Sure it sounds like a nice idea but very few people really think about exactly what they need to eat and exactly what exercises they need to do to achieve their goals. Today I am going to help you with half of that equation by providing a full overview of one of the foods you need to be eating regularly if you want to “build muscle” and “lose weight” – protein.
How Does Protein Help You Build Muscle?
Protein is often referred to as your body’s building blocks. When you eat foods containing protein your body breaks them down into amino acids. These amino acids are then used to build, maintain and repair all your body’s cells. Protein comes into play when you do resistance training. Resistance training tears your muscles slightly. Your body uses the amino acids in protein to repair your muscle cells and also build them back bigger and stronger than before.
How Does Protein Help You Lose Weight?
Quite a lot of people know that protein helps to build muscle. However, not nearly as many people know that it can also help you lose weight. The reason protein is so effective at helping you lose weight is its thermic effect. Thermic effect refers to the percentage of calories that are used when consuming and digesting food. For example, if you eat a 300 calorie meal and it has a thermic effect of 10%, 30 of the calories will be used processing and digesting the meal.
Dietary fats have a really low thermic effect of around 2%. Carbohydrates have a moderate thermic effect of around 15%. Protein has a very impressive thermic effect of between 25% and 30%. So just by eating more protein you can significantly increase the number of calories you burn each day.
How Can You Eat More Protein?
In my opinion most people eat far too many carbohydrates. Carbohydrates only have one role in humans – to provide energy. If your body doesn’t need to use the carbs for energy it stores them as body fat.
Protein can also provide your body with energy but has plenty of other roles in the human body too. As discussed above, it is used to build, maintain and repair your body’s cells. It is also used to create chemicals inside your body and regulate a number of important processes.
You still need some carbohydrates in your diet. Natural carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables supply your body with essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. However, processed carbohydrates such as bread, chocolate, crisps and pasta can be replaced with protein. Here are some suggestions that can help you cut the carbs and increase the protein in your diet:
1) Replace Breakfast Cereal With Eggs Or Yogurt:- Breakfast cereals are something that most people eat on a daily basis. However, most breakfast cereals are over 80% carbs and provide very little in terms of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. If you ditch the cereal and instead have eggs or yogurt for breakfast you will increase the thermic effect of the meal by adding a lot more protein. As an added bonus you will also be getting a wide range of vitamins and minerals from these foods.
2) Snack On Nuts:- Most of the time when you reach for a snack you probably go for cakes, chocolate or crisps. Unfortunately, these tasty treats are loaded with carbohydrates and contain almost no vitamins, minerals or phytonutrients. So next time you feel a little peckish between meals grab some nuts instead. Nuts are much richer in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
In addition to this, they are lower in carbs and higher in protein so can give your body a real thermic boost. However, when it comes to nuts you need to moderate your consumption. Whilst they are healthier than the high carb snacks listed above and do have a greater thermic effect, they are still high in calories. Eating too many can negate the increased thermic effect and cause you to gain weight.
3) Take Full Advantage Of Protein Shakes:- Protein shakes are one of the richest sources of protein available. Most protein shakes contain at least 80% protein so in terms of thermic effect you can’t get much better. If you replace one of your meals with a protein shake a few times a week this thermic effect can really add up and help you lose weight. However, when doing this you need to ensure that you are still getting adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Most protein shakes contain very few other nutrients so you will need to compensate for this in your other meals.
As you can see protein is crucial if you want to achieve your New Year’s resolutions of “building muscle” or “losing weight”. So when the New Year arrives make sure you follow these tips and cram some extra protein into your diet. Getting rid of unnatural carbohydrates and replacing them with protein can do wonders for your health, your muscles and your waistline.