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1. Reduce hunger

Protein-rich foods are highly satisfying and they naturally reduce the number of calories we eat every day. Studies have shown that by increasing protein intake from 15 to 30 percent, participants ate up to 450 fewer calories daily.

What to do: 

Plan meals around high-quality proteins that contain all the essential amino acids. These foods will provide the greatest nutritional value for the least amount of calories. Eggs, chicken, beef, whey protein, and fish are all exceptional protein sources.

2. Raise metabolic rate

Protein is the most costly food for the body to digest and assimilate. From a meal of pure protein, the body burns 25 percent of the calories during digestion. This will allow our metabolism to burn up to 100 more calories per day with high protein diets.

What to do: 

Eat the highest quality proteins. We know that animal proteins are the top protein sources and they tend to be better digested if you make an effort to chew them properly and allow them to digest optimally. This can also help gut health. A simple way to promote gut health and improve satiety is to plan meals around protein and fibrous green vegetables like cruciferous vegetables.

3. Preserve lean muscle when losing fat

Eating plenty of protein preserves lean muscle mass when you’re trying to lose body fat, which is critical for maintaining metabolism.

The main reason the average person regains fat after losing weight is because of muscle loss during the weight loss process. Metabolic rate drops, so the body burns fewer calories daily. If there is no calorie adjustment, they will almost always experience rebound weight gain on the typical calorie-restricted diet.

What to do:

Aim for at least 1.6-2 g/kg/BW of protein because this amount was found to preserve optimal levels of lean mass.

4. Improve blood sugar & Insulin health

When we increase our intake of protein, particularly from whole sources, two things happen. First, hunger is reduced because protein rich foods improve gut hormones that tell your brain you’re full. Second, people automatically decrease their intake of carbohydrates.

This combination helps balance blood sugar and leads to lower insulin. When insulin goes down, it is easier for your body to burn fat.

What to do:

Try taking whey protein after workouts as it can suppress appetite and improve insulin sensitivity.

5. Boost motivation and perseverance

Protein foods provide vital building blocks that are involved in wakefulness, energy metabolism in the brain, and motivation. For example, creatine, which is best known for providing quick energy in the body, is also a vital energy source in the brain that can enhance cognition and reaction time.

In addition, amino acids provided in protein foods have been found to stimulate the orexin network of neurotransmitters, which increase metabolism, energy use, and cognition. Glucose, which is provided from carbohydrates, has the opposite effect, reducing cognition and energy.

What to do:

Animal proteins are excellent brain foods since they are the only sources of nutrients like creatine, carnosine, vitamin b12, and the omega-3 fat DHA; all of which enhance cognition and aren’t available in plant foods.

6. Get Better Sleep

It’s incredibly hard to lose fat if you aren’t getting enough sleep, but protein can help.  High protein diets have been found to allow people to sleep better and wake up less frequently during the night compared to high-carb diets. This is due to how protein balances activity on the orexin network, making us wakeful and energized during the day, but sleepy and restful at night.

What to do:

Try not to get trapped into complementing your high protein diet with no carbohydrates, since this may leave you having trouble winding down and going to sleep at night. 

Carbohydrate foods are very beneficial for helping to lower cortisol and improve levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is calming and improves mood. Try including carbs in your evening meal or before bed so you can go to sleep more easily.

7. Stronger bones & less fracture risk

Studies show that people who eat more protein have stronger skeletons because the amino acids in protein are used to build bone. Protein also improves muscle mass, which significantly increases bone strength. Finally, higher protein intake improves the action of the hormone IGF-1, which is a major regulator of bone metabolism.

8. Fewer carb cravings

We all love carbohydrates since they contain different forms of sugar. Protein-rich foods provide a number of nutrients that are key to avoiding hormonal and metabolic imbalances that make us crave carbs.

Protein provides glutamine, which is a superior nutrient that the brain can use as an energy source and will help you eliminate obsessive thoughts about food.

Protein also contains carnitine, which is an amino aide that is responsible for the transport of fats into the cells to be used for energy in the body. Getting enough of it will improve fat burning and help keep energy levels steady so that you don't have a drop in blood sugar and experience a rebound carb craving.

9. Less stress and better cortisol balance

Constant hunger and food cravings, especially for junk foods, are two indicators that your cortisol is out of balance. Eating protein can reset your entire hormonal cascade and improves the body’s biological circadian rhythm. 

After you eat a protein-rich meal, cortisol is reduced, as is the hunger-inducing hormone ghrelin. A hormone cascade follows a few hours later, and you get a decrease in insulin and an increase in leptin, blunting hunger.

Not only does protein help you avoid binging on carbohydrates when you’re stressed, but it can also be part of an overall stress management plan to keep you calm and steady when the going gets rough.

What to do: 

Eat at least every 3 - 4 hours and make sure every meal has protein, healthy fats, and vegetables. Save higher carb foods for your evening meal. Most important - avoid the typical high-carb foods at breakfast because these will spike insulin and set you up for a stressful, carb-craving filled day.

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