Proteins, Dieting, and Science

Spring is officially here which means that summer is close behind. As people ready for hotter days lounging on the beach, many are also trying to finally kick start that new years resolution with a diet.

If you’re considering going on a diet or just want to eat a bit healthier, you may consider keeping a high-protein diet.

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From body builders to the average Joe, high-protein diets are often a staple in the world of dieting and exercise.

Does it really work? According to science, it does.

As we’ve mentioned time and time again, proteins are the key building blocks of our body. They’re found in our muscles and hair and are essential for muscle growth.

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Proteins are built from amino acids, which our bodies either recycle or take from the food we consume. Meats like chicken, beef, and fish often contain all of the amino acids that our bodies need. However, proteins in vegetables, grains, fruits, and nuts are also a valuable source of amino acids.

If you’re a health-food aficionado, you’ll know that though the above foods are all rich in proteins they differ in the respective fat content. Fats are important to have in any diet, they are a major source of energy, they help you absorb some vitamins and minerals and they build cell membranes, the vital exterior of each cell. However, some fats are better than others.

Lean meats like chicken, salmon, and turkey contain more unsaturated fats than their red meat counterparts. Though a steak is a high source of protein, it also contains a lot of saturated fat.

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All fats have a similar chemical structure: a chain of carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen atoms. Saturated fat refers to the number of hydrogen atoms surrounding each carbon atom. The chain of carbon atoms holds as many hydrogen atoms as possible. On the other hand, unsaturated fats have double bonds between carbon atoms and hence reduced saturation with the hydrogen atoms.

Several studies have shown that saturated fats are connected with higher cholesterol levels and increased risks of heart disease. This debate is still ongoing in the field, however, the American Heart Association does recommend that saturated fat intake be reduced or replaced by products containing unsaturated fats, a dietary adjustment that could significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

A high-protein diet could quite literally prevent disease and keep you healthier as well as leaner. A lack of protein in your diet can cause problems like loss in muscle mass, a decrease in immunity, and a weakening of the respiratory system and heart. However, people who want to have a higher protein intake have to be aware of their saturated fat intake. Red meat is notoriously known for increasing your cholesterol levels and increasing the risk of heart disease due to the large amount of saturated fats that they contain.

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Nutritionists always suggest a healthy balance when considering a high-protein diet. Introduce leaner protein sources into your diet and reduce saturated fats when you can. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t have red meats every once in a while but in order to ensure a healthy lifestyle, leaner protein sources like legumes, white meats, and grains are recommended.

 

Protein shakes also offer your daily dose of proteins but they do contain a lot of sugar, which can be beneficial if you’re exercising regularly and need the energy. However, increasing your sugar intake is usually not the first idea you should be thinking of when you’re aiming for a well-balanced diet.

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If you decide to start a high-protein diet or a commitment to a healthier lifestyle before the beach days of summer creep upon us, just remember that you have science on your side.


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