Your body is in a continual state of renewal and repair. In one year the over 100 trillion cells that make up your body will all be new. Your body regenerates itself with the help of the building materials you supply it with. You are the general contractor. It is up to you to make sure this new body of yours is built using only the finest materials and these materials must come from the foods you eat.
Derived from the Greek word protos (“to come first”), protein is the king over all other building materials and second only to water in abundance in your body. Making up approximately 20% of your body weight, almost two thirds of your body’s protein is located in your muscles. The rest can be found in your skin, hair, nails, tissues and bones.
Protein has the highest “fat burning effect” of all macronutrients. When you eat, a certain amount of calories are burned because of the energy required to digest the food. This is known as the thermic effect of food. With protein this number is as high as 30 percent. If you were to eat 100 calories worth of protein, 30 calories would be used by the digestive process alone leaving only 70 calories for your body to contend with. This thermic effect is a major reason why diets that are rich in protein trump high carbohydrate or high fat diets when it comes to fat loss.
The fat fighting benefits of protein do not end with calorie burning. Consuming protein will stimulate the release of natural weight loss hormones. Researchers from the University College in London have concluded that eating protein triggers the release of a hormone called PYY which serves to regulate hunger.
Protein is also essential to the building and maintenance of your body’s greatest metabolic asset- your muscles. Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Robert Wolfe, Ph.D., Chief of Metabolism and Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Texas writes that, “every 10-kilogram difference in lean mass translates to a difference in energy expenditure of 100 calories per day.” That being said, not all proteins are created equal. Protein sources differ in their amino acid composition. Choose protein supplements that mix easily and feature enzymes for optimal absorption. Rotate your protein foods by choosing from a variety of animal and vegan sources while avoiding soy in favor of rice, pea and alfalfa. This will ensure your body receives all the amino acids necessary for optimal health and will also serve to reduce the incidence of developing a protein allergy.
About the author: Bruce Krahn is a professional speaker, author and fitness trainer.