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Protein: Why Is It So Important?

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Protein is the latest buzzword in the fitness industry, but unlike most of the nutrition advice you see online, the benefits of protein have been heavily researched. Therefore, we know that protein is an essential part of health and wellbeing. Without a sufficient amount, many of the body’s day to day functions would not work. 

 

What is protein and where can I find it? 

Protein is one of three macronutrients along with carbohydrates and fats that your body needs in large amounts in order to survive. You might have seen that protein is essential for muscle growth, but it does a lot more than just that. Protein is necessary to help the skin, hair and nails grow, helps fight infection and also makes up enzymes that carry out chemical reactions in the body. 

Some examples of high protein foods include: 

  • Poultry 
  • Meat 
  • Fish 
  • Eggs 
  • Dairy 
  • Tofu 
  • Oats 
  • Spinach 
  • Protein powder 

 

 

Why is it so important? 

If you want to build muscle then eating a high protein diet is crucial. Protein is the building blocks of muscle and without it your muscles won’t be able to repair and grow. And this isn’t just for bodybuilders, if you want to achieve that ‘toned’ look then you need to incorporate more protein into your diet. 

The same goes for weight loss. If you’re trying to lose weight then protein is just as important. Foods that are high in protein take longer to digest and therefore leave you feeling fuller for longer. This is in comparison to carbohydrates that are much quicker to digest and won’t leave you feeling as satisfied. 

Because of this, when you eat a high protein diet you are filling your body with nutrient dense foods, leaving little space for those high calorie, low nutrient snacks and foods that you usually eat throughout the day. As a result, you will be eating less and be in a calorie deficit. 

 

 

Ways to include more protein in your diet 

Eat protein with every meal – If you want to increase your protein intake the easiest thing to do is have it little and often. Plan ahead and make sure there is protein in every meal. Aim for around 20-30g per meal. 

Include protein with your snacks – More often than not, people choose sugary snacks over savoury ones. Sugary snacks might provide a short burst of energy, but in the long run these sugar spikes can be detrimental to your health, they also don’t really suppress hunger. Instead pick savoury snacks or add protein to your sweet snacks. For example, spread peanut butter over toast instead of jam and butter, or pair almond butter with fruit. 

Start your day with protein – It’s time to get rid of the sugary cereals and jam and toast and opt for a more filling breakfast. Having a high protein breakfast will reduce the chance of those mid-morning cravings you get when you feel a slump. Try having eggs, greek yoghurt or oats and start your day as you mean to go on. 

Top up your intake with a protein shake – Getting enough protein in food isn’t always easy, especially if you prefer to eat a plant based diet. Having a protein shake between meals can help bump up your protein on the go without the need for much prep. It’s perfect for anyone on the go that needs a quick hit of protein. You can use whey protein, or choose plant based powders such as pea and hemp.

 

The most important thing is that your diet is balanced with all three macronutrients, as each plays its own role in your health and performance. The simplest way to ensure you’re getting enough protein is by keeping track, either using an app or a food journal. By doing so you can make sure you’re eating enough protein no matter what your goal is. 

Eryn Barber

by Eryn Barber

Eryn is a content writer who specialises in health and fitness articles. When she’s not writing, Eryn is helping people improve their strength and overall health as a Personal Trainer and is currently undertaking her Msc in Strength & Conditioning. You’ll usually find Eryn out on the trails running when she isn’t working.

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