Nutritional expert Rhiannon Lambert shares her top five reasons for enjoying a protein-rich diet.
To curb your hunger
The three essential macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates and protein) affect our bodies differently, and while you might turn to a carb-heavy snack when you’re trying to fill a hole, it’s actually protein that makes you feel full up.
This is because protein acts directly on ‘ghrelin’, which is the hormone that tells your body whether or not it’s hungry whilst boosting satiety hormones at the same time. It also provides slow-releasing energy which doesn’t mess with your blood sugar levels the way some carbs do, meaning you’re less likely to experience the old 4pm slump.
To be strong and toned
Protein forms the building blocks of muscles, so eating plenty of it helps improve muscle tone when paired with resistance exercise, resulting in a leaner, more toned physique. As well as supporting stronger muscles, protein can help ensure healthy bones. People who eat more protein tend to have better bone health as they get older, and a lower risk of osteoporosis and fractures1. This is super-important for women, who are at a higher risk of this after menopause.
When the craving to snack hits, it’s tough to fight back – and why should you?! Snacking is an essential part of our diet, so rather than trying to stifle the desire, embrace it by arming yourself with healthy, satisfying, protein-rich snacks. Eating protein has an impact on your dopamine levels, which are naturally produced in the brain2. Dopamine is responsible for movement control of your body; it also stimulates your metabolism, aiding your energy and regulates information flow to the brain. You are bound to choose better snacks when your brain is happy!
To look great on the outside
Hair and nails are mostly made up from a structural protein called keratin (the same stuff you see in shampoos promising glossy locks!) By eating a high-protein diet, you’re arming yourself with the building blocks for growing strong, shiny, healthy hair and nails.
To live to a ripe old age
As we get older, our muscles tend to shrink, which is the main reason we become frail. Whilst we’re big believers in ageing gracefully, you can trick nature a little and slow down the effects by eating plenty of protein earlier in life, meaning you can be active right into your twilight years3!
1 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
2 BBC Good Food – https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/what-dopamine-diet
3 Study published – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20711407