A High Protein Diet: The Best Way To Stay Lean?
A High Protein Diet: The Best Way To Stay Lean?
We’re all familiar with how important a high protein diet is for a healthy, lean body. After all, it’s the nutrient required for building muscle, so it’s vital for the growth of new lean body mass.
Therefore, what is it about protein that helps us to burn fat and lose weight? Does it actually do those things, or is that just a common misconception?
Below, we’re going to take a look at why a high protein diet is the best way to incorporate these nutrients and help you get lean. It’s not the ONLY thing you need to eat—your body still needs plenty of fats and some carbs—but it’s the most important of the macronutrients to include in your diet.
The Dangers of Carbs
The most common source of nutrients is carbs, which is found in just about everything you eat: from grains to fruits to veggies, dairy products to seeds and nuts. There are two types of carbs: simple and complex. Complex carbs are carbohydrates that contain plenty of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Whereas, simple carbs are carbohydrates that contain very little additional nutrition.
Carbs are the most dangerous of the food groups if you’re trying to get or stay lean. Simple carbs are absorbed quickly into your body, where they’re shunted off to your liver to produce blood glucose (also known as blood sugar). Your body works to produce plenty of glucose from the carbs in order to have quick-acting energy.
But what happens when you consume more energy than your body can use right away? The glucose remains in your bloodstream for awhile and eventually your body determines that it needs to reduce blood sugar levels. The glucose then converts into fat, which is goes into storing until you need it.
The problem with this is that most of us tend to eat more before we need to burn the glucose stored as fat. Subsequently, this means the fat remains inert, and it slowly adds to our body fat percentage. Goodbye lean body; hello extra body fat!
Simple carbs are absorbed and flood your body all at once, which means you need to burn them right away in order to prevent the storing of fat. Eating high-fiber carbs (whole grains, fruits, veggies, etc.) will slow down the absorption rate, but only so much. Carbs are not the best food to help you get lean!
The Downside of Fat
Fat is an excellent source of energy for your body. Not only does it take longer to digest and transform into glucose (to burn for fuel), but it signals to your body that it’s getting enough fat and thus doesn’t need to cling to the stored fat cells. The more often you eat fat, the more your body will become accustomed to burning fat for fuel—making it more efficient at burning body fat.
The downside to fat is that it doesn’t offer a lot of nutritional value. It contains a lot of calories (9 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram of protein or carbs) but no vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, or fiber. It’s a vital food to add to your diet, but it’s not the main source of nutrients.
Why A High Protein Diet is Your Key to Staying Lean
Protein is the key to staying lean for two simple reasons:
- It provides the amino acids your body needs to build muscle. The human body requires nine essential amino acids to build new muscle mass and maintain existing lean muscle. High protein diets include: red meat, chicken, fish, and eggs provide those essential amino acids, which helps your body to build more muscle. The more muscle you build, the more stored body fat and calories you burn on a daily basis.
- It provides energy for fuel. Most protein foods are also a source of fat, either saturated fat (from animal proteins) or unsaturated fat (from plant-based foods). These fats are reliable sources of energy that will keep you going for hours. High protein diets can help to boost your metabolism by giving you more food to convert into energy and increasing the muscle that requires your body to produce more energy in the first place.
The truth is that protein is vital for your overall health, not just your muscles. Eating more protein will significantly speed up your metabolism, encourage faster weight and fat loss, boost energy levels, fight muscular fatigue, increase muscle mass, prevent mood swings, improve brain health, fight diabetes, speed up healing and recovery, boost your immunity to disease, and the list goes on!
If your goal is to get or stay lean, you need to add significantly more protein to your diet. This means eating any of the foods listed below:
- Dairy products
- Soy beans
- Protein powder
All of these foods will deliver a hefty dose of the amino acids your body needs to build muscle.
What Lean Means To You
Remember the term “lean”? That refers to a low body fat content, something that can ONLY be achieved by increasing your muscle mass. The more muscle you pack on your frame, the more energy your body will require each day. If you cut back on food intake, it forces your body to access stored fat to produce the demanded energy. The result: weight loss and fat loss.
If your goal is to get or stay lean, protein is the #1 food to add to your diet. An increase in protein (around 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day) will help to boost your muscle-building, speed up your metabolism, and promote better lean body mass. Consequently, the more muscle you build, the more fat you lose. It’s a win-win that will give you the lean, sleek physique you want!
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