Protein benefits

What is protein?

Protein is a word that is frequently used on television, in advertising and on packaging and so most people are familiar with it. However, you might be surprised at just how few people actually know what protein is, how it is used by the body and how to identify quality protein foods.

If you are thinking, “why do I need to know more about protein”, the answer in a nut-shell is because it is an essential macro-nutrient – one of three primary nutritional compounds consumed by humans in the largest quantities and which provide bulk energy.

The two other macro-nutrients are fat and carbohydrates.

Protein is required by our bodies for a wide range of critical functions. In other words, we cannot live without it.

What are proteins – the technical bit

Proteins are a component of each and every cell, tissue and organ in our bodies and they are constantly being broken down and replaced.

The protein that we take in through the food that we eat is basically the same as the protein in our bodies, except that it is structured differently. Once eaten, food protein is broken down into amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and later used to replenish our bodies’ own protein stores.

There are 22 different amino acids required by the body in order to function properly and there are over 10,000 different kinds of protein in the body.

Functions of protein

Protein is used to:

  • build and repair muscles and ligaments (whether as part of normal growth or following exercise or injury)
  • provide the body with energy
  • maintain organs
  • balance blood sugar levels
  • grow skin, hair, nails and bones
  • produce haemoglobin in blood
  • digest food
  • make antibodies and support the immune system
  • transfer messages between neurotransmitters in the brain
  • make hormones, such as insulin and metabolism-regulators
  • and more.

As you can see, protein has an incredibly wide application in the body and can be used for anything from providing a physical structure to assisting in a biological process. This is why it is essential to incorporate adequate levels of high quality, lean, protein-rich foods into your daily diet.   

A high-protein diet

There are lots of differing opinions about the benefits or otherwise of high-protein diets.

Going a step further, opinions will again diverge according to whether you are talking about plant-based protein or animal protein because (for example) plant proteins are lower in fat, calories and cholesterol, yet usually higher in fibre, vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients.

However, the fact remains that protein is an essential component of every person’s diet for the various reasons set out above. The key is to ensure that you are receiving enough protein on a daily basis and that it is natural, lean, balanced and complete (i.e. contains all of the essential amino acids that cannot be manufactured by your body).  

High-protein foods

While most people associate protein with meat and other animal products, these are not the only high-protein foods.

You might be surprised to learn that there is a significant amount of protein in fresh leafy greens and even in fruit – this is often referred to as plant-based protein – you just have to choose your fruit, vegetables and other whole foods carefully.

Wheatgrass, hemp and quinoa, for example, are all examples of so-called “first class” proteins from plant sources, which contain all the essential amino acids. People following the Living Foods programme also use fermented seed and nut sauces and pates, seed and nut milks (all sprouted), sprouted millet, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds, avocados and green drinks as good protein sources.

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Carbohydrates and weight loss

Cut down on carbs to lose weight faster

You should eat fewer carbohydrates if you want to lose weight quickly.

Having said that, there is no need to cut out carbohydrates entirely if you are trying to lose weight and, in fact, that would not be a healthy step. Carbohydrates are an essential energy source for the body, but you should certainly cut back on the amount you are consuming – simple carbohydrates in particular.

In contrast, there are some healthy carbohydrates that you can eat that will actually give your body fuel to function, thereby facilitating exercise, a faster metabolism and weight loss.

The key is therefore controlling your carbohydrate intake, tailoring it to support weight loss instead of creating an obstacle to weight loss.

Which carbohydrates for weight loss?

Carbohydrates typically sit in the body and are very difficult to completely burn off. For best weight loss results, you therefore need to understand the difference between “good” and “bad” carbohydrates, finding those that are going to help (rather than hinder) your efforts.

There are some carbohydrates that offer you little or no nutritional value, and that can actually cause your blood sugar levels to spike and possibly create an insulin imbalance. It is important to consume a majority of healthy carbohydrates if you want to lose weight and keep it off.

Carbohydrates, such as fruit, vegetables, grains and other plant-based sources are healthy options that will support all-round nutrition, fibre intake, a fast metabolism and a feeling of satiety, at the same time as carbohydrate intake for energy levels. Examples include:

  • barley or barley grass
  • quinoa
  • chickpeas
  • wholegrains
  • sweet potatoes
  • oats
  • bananas
  • beetroot
  • grapefruit
  • and many more.

But one word of caution… While fruit is, of course, highly nutritious, beware not to over-indulge given the high levels of sugar. Even though these are healthy fruit sugars, they can still contribute to weight gain. Balance your diet carefully.

Eat smart, plan well

Changing the way you eat will most likely be one of the key factors that will help you achieve your weight-loss goals. Almost certainly, years of poor eating habits have led to the excess weight in the first place. It is those habits that need to be reversed.

Instead of eating your big meal in the evening, try changing it to lunch. Try not to eat starchy carbohydrates after 3pm; instead make your final meal of the day no more than three hours before bedtime. That meal should be a light meal high in lean protein and nutrients, but low in calories.

Sugary drinks, refined sugar and other processed foods are all things to avoid at all costs. Carbonated beverages, in particular, are full of sugar and unhealthy carbohydrates, and can also add to any cravings that you experience. Instead, choose a bottle of water to reduce the thirst that you have and help you to feel fuller, if you want to stay as healthy and slim as possible.

Also try to ensure that you have a little bit of lean protein in all of your meals, even breakfast. Protein tends to fill you up more than carbohydrates or fats would.

To help you lose weight, plan on eating a substantial healthy breakfast each morning. This strategy will help you avoid overeating at lunch time or craving snacks between the meals. Egg whites are a good choice.

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Hemp seed protein powder

Making a big difference with hemp seed protein powder

You will not believe how easy it is to make a huge difference to your health with the help of hemp seed protein.

If you are looking for a diet supplement that works for the long term, hemp seed protein is it. It is loaded with tonnes of essential amino acids and many of the nutrients our bodies need to keep us healthy.

How to create a blend that provides you with the most benefits for the least amount of effort?

The first thing you need to do when selecting your protein supplement is to find the best hemp protein powder – natural, balanced, high quality and free from added nasties.

There are many places you can go to find good quality protein powder. Many online stores and nutritional supplement companies sell products that use natural sources. For maximum benefit, there should be no artificial preservatives or colours in your chosen powder.

Hemp is also known as Cannabutter. It comes from the seeds of the hemp plant which is also the source of many of the vitamins and minerals found in traditional diets.

So now you better understand the ingredient that you will be using and what you need to look for when you are looking for the right hemp protein powder.

Maximising the benefits of hemp seed protein powder

After you have decided on the blend that is right for you, you need to ensure that you include it in your daily diet at least four times per day (or as advised) for maximum benefit, i.e. increased protein and nutrient intake from a quality source.

The next step is to make sure that you use your shake at breakfast, lunch and in the afternoon. Consuming the powder right before you go to bed will not have as much of an effect as drinking it right before you start your day.

The final step in making sure that you get the most out of your shake is to make sure that you always drink a glass of water with each serving of protein powder. This will help to keep you hydrated, will balance out any dietary fibre intake and will also help to flush out toxins.

You will soon see that you are losing weight and feeling great throughout the day by simply incorporating this nutritious superfood into your daily diet.

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