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Today a close friend of mine asked a very good question - why is it that trainers and nutritionists are always harping on about protein rich diets and telling us to increase our protein intake? Isn't protein something that's really only important for men who want to build plenty of muscle?
I couldn't wait to answer this question because it's something I think a lot of women are confused by and it's definitely time to set the record straight. A higher protein diet can definitely lead to overall better health, an increased metabolism, improved body tone (yes please!) and more rapid results from your training, so it's important to include at least 20-30g of lean protein at every meal - breakfast, lunch, dinner and even at snack time if you can! I'm going to keep it short and sweet today, so here are four key outcomes of including more protein in your diet and why they occur:
1. Increased Metabolism
All macronutrients (meaning carbs, proteins, fats, alcohol) have to be processed/digested by your body but interestingly, the thermic effect of protein metabolism on your body is more than double that of fats and carbohydrates. This basically means that eating regular serves of good quality protein will ramp up your metabolism twice as much as eating anything else, meaning greater fat loss when dieting. So choose a protein-filled morning/arvo snack like unsweetened yoghurt, nuts, legumes or cold cuts over those rice crackers to keep your body going!
2. Get your hormones working for you
Increasing protein intake means higher levels of the hormone glucagon in your blood - more of this little gem means greater fat mobilisation (i.e. the flushing of fat from your body) and a decrease in the enzymes responsible for making/storing fat in fat cells and in your liver, which means you'll ultimately get leaner a lot faster.
3. Increased body tone
When we diet by restricting calorie intake, our bodies not only shed fat, they also shed muscle. This is not a good thing! The more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism and the more 'body tone' you have (therefore, the better you'll look in a bikini!). In order for your body to shed ONLY fat and hold on to or build more lean muscle, you need to be eating enough protein for your body to continually repair and restore muscle. This is particularly relevant if you have also recently started an exercise program.
4. It just works!
A LOT of good research out there has proven time and again that reducing the carbohydrate:protein ration from 3.5:1 to 1.4:1 not only increases fat loss and holds on to metabolism boosting muscle, it also makes you feel more satisfied post-meal and keeps your blood glucose levels stable, which means you're less likely to crave chocolate and sweet things come 3pm.
So there you have it ladies! Stock up on lean meats (white is best!), loads of oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines, unsweetened low-fat dairy, nuts/seeds and all things protein-rich to boost your diet... and eventually your metabolism.
Lose wheat to lose weight: taking wheat out of your diet may help you lose up to five kilos in two weeks: