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10 scientifically backed reasons to eat more protein

10 wissenschaftlich unterstützte Gründe, mehr Protein zu essen

The effects of fat and carbohydrates on health are controversial, but almost everyone agrees that protein is important. Most people eat enough protein to prevent a deficiency, but some individuals would be better off with a much higher protein intake.

Numerous studies suggest that a high-protein diet has greater benefits for weight loss and metabolic health (1, 2). Here are 10 scientifically supported reasons to eat more protein.

1. protein reduces appetite and hunger

The three macronutrients - fat, carbohydrates and protein - affect your body in different ways. Studies show that protein is by far the most satiating. It helps you feel fuller with less food (3).

One of the reasons for this is that protein lowers the levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. It also increases levels of peptide YY - a hormone that helps you feel full (4, 5, 6).

These effects on appetite can be quite strong. In one study, increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% of total calories caused overweight women to eat 441 kcal less each day without having to consciously restrict themselves in any way (7).

If you want to lose weight or belly fat, consider replacing some of your carbohydrates or fats with protein. This can be as simple as making your potato or rice portion smaller and eating a few extra bites of meat or fish.

Summary: A higher protein diet reduces hunger and can help you consume fewer calories. This is achieved by improving the function of weight-regulating hormones.

2. protein increases muscle mass and strength

Protein is the building block of your muscles. For this reason, consuming adequate amounts of protein helps you maintain your existing muscle mass and promotes muscle growth when you are strength training.

Numerous studies have shown that eating plenty of protein can help increase muscle mass and strength (8, 9). If you are physically active, training with weights or trying to build muscle, then you need to make sure you are consuming adequate amounts of protein.

Keeping your protein intake high can also help prevent muscle loss during a diet or weight loss phase (10, 11, 12).

Summary: Muscles are primarily made up of protein. A high protein intake can help you build muscle mass and strength while reducing potential muscle loss during dieting.

3. protein is good for your bones

A common myth is that protein - and animal protein in particular - is bad for your bones. This is based on the idea that protein increases the acid load in the body, causing calcium to leak out of the bones to neutralize the acid.

However, most long-term studies suggest that protein - including animal protein - has clear benefits for bone health (13, 14, 15). People who eat more protein tend to maintain their bone mass better as they age and have a much lower risk of fractures (16, 17).

This is particularly interesting for women who are at high risk of osteoporosis after menopause. Eating plenty of protein and staying physically active is a good way to help prevent this.

Summary: People who eat more protein tend to have better bone health and a much lower risk of osteoporosis and fractures as they age.

4. protein reduces cravings and the desire to eat late at night

Food cravings are different from normal hunger. It's not about your body needing energy, but more about your brain craving a reward (18).

And yet it can be very difficult to control these cravings. The best way to overcome them may be to prevent cravings from occurring in the first place.

A study conducted with overweight men showed that increasing protein intake to 25% of calories could reduce cravings by 60% and halve the desire to eat late at night (19). Another study conducted with overweight female adolescents found that eating a high-protein breakfast could reduce cravings and late night snacking.

This could be mediated by an improvement in the function of dopamine - one of the primary brain hormones involved in cravings and addiction (20).

Summary: Eating more protein could reduce cravings and the desire for late night snacks. Even a high-protein breakfast could have a powerful effect.

5 Protein increases metabolic rate and boosts fat burning

Eating can increase the metabolic rate over a short period of time. This is because the body needs energy to digest and utilize the nutrients contained in food. This additional energy consumption is also known as the thermic effect of food - TEF for short.

However, not all foods behave in the same way in this respect. Protein, for example, has a much stronger thermic effect than carbohydrates - around 20 to 35% compared to 5 to 15% (21).

A high protein intake has been shown to significantly increase metabolic rate and increase the amount of calories you burn. This can add up to an extra 80 to 100 calories burned per day (22, 23, 24).

Some scientists even believe that you can burn even more calories this way. In one study, a group with a high protein intake burned 260 kcal more than the group with a low protein intake. This corresponds to the effect of about one hour of moderate exercise per day (25).

Summary: A high protein intake could significantly increase your metabolic rate and help you burn more calories throughout the day.

6 Protein can lower blood pressure

High blood pressure is one of the main causes of heart attacks, strokes and chronic kidney disease. Interestingly, it has been shown that a higher protein intake can lower blood pressure.

A review of 40 controlled studies found that increasing protein intake lowered systolic blood pressure (the upper blood pressure value) by an average of 1.76 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (the lower value) by an average of 1.15 mm Hg (26).

Another study also found that in addition to lowering blood pressure, a high-protein diet also lowered levels of bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides (27).

Summary: Several studies indicate that a higher protein intake can lower blood pressure. Some studies also show improvements in other risk factors for heart disease.

7 Protein helps maintain weight loss

Because a high-protein diet increases metabolic rate and leads to an automatic reduction in calorie intake and cravings, many people who increase their protein intake tend to lose weight almost immediately (28, 29).

One study found that overweight people who consumed 39% of their calories in the form of protein lost 5 kilos within 12 weeks - even though they had not consciously tried to restrict their calorie intake (7).

Protein also has additional benefits for fat loss during intentional calorie restriction. In a 12-month study of 130 overweight subjects on a calorie-restricted diet, the group on a high-protein diet lost 53% more body fat than the group on a normal-protein diet with the same calorie intake (39).

Of course, weight loss is just the beginning. Maintaining weight after weight loss is a much greater challenge for most people.

Even a small increase in protein intake can help with weight maintenance. In one study, increasing protein intake from 15% to 18% reduced weight gain by 50% (31).

So if you're trying to keep excess weight off, you should think about permanently increasing your protein intake.

Summary: Increasing your protein intake can not only help with weight loss, but can also help you keep the lost weight off in the long run.

8 Protein does not damage healthy kidneys

Many people mistakenly believe that a high protein intake can damage the kidneys. It is true that reducing protein intake can be beneficial for people with existing kidney disease. This should not be taken lightly, as kidney disease can be a very serious condition (32).

However, although high protein intake may be harmful for people with existing kidney problems, this is not relevant for people with healthy kidneys. In fact, studies emphasize that high-protein diets have no adverse effects in people with healthy kidneys (33, 34, 35),

Summary: Although protein may have harmful effects for people with kidney problems in large amounts, this does not affect people with healthy kidneys.

9 Protein can help the body repair itself after injury

Protein can help your body repair itself after injury. This makes sense as protein is the main building block of body tissues and organs.

Numerous studies show that eating more protein after injury can help speed up the healing process and recovery (36, 37).

Summary: Eating more protein can help you recover faster from injury.

10 Protein helps you stay fit as you get older

One of the consequences of ageing is that your muscles gradually become weaker and weaker. The most serious cases of this are known as age-related sarcopenia, which is a major cause of frailty, fractures and reduced quality of life among older people (38, 39).

Eating more protein is one of the best ways to reduce age-related muscle loss and prevent sarcopenia (40). Of course, staying physically active is also crucial and training with weights or other types of resistance training can work wonders (41).

Summary: Eating plenty of protein can reduce the muscle loss associated with aging.

Conclusion

Although a higher protein intake can have significant health benefits, it is not necessarily suitable for everyone. Most people already consume 15% of their calories in the form of protein, which is more than enough to prevent protein deficiency.

However, in certain cases, people can benefit from consuming significantly higher amounts of protein - up to 25 to 30% of calories.

If you need to lose weight, want to improve your metabolic health or build muscle mass and strength, then you should make sure you're getting enough protein.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18448177
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15941879
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15466943
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16469977
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413106002713
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16950139
  7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413106002713
  8. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-11-20
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25169440
  10. http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/19927027
  11. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-11-20
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24092765
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16373952
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2110232
  15. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1359/JBMR.040204
  16. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1359/jbmr.
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9925137
  18. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091305700001970
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20847729
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2509855
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15466943
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11838888
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19640952
  24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20565999
  25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25733634
  26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20711407
  27. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/201882
  28. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18469287
  29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10375057
  30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22691622
  31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14710168
  32. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8989740
  33. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15735253
  34. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16174292
  35. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2129142/
  36. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16998142
  37. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12070399
  38. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23828275
  39. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25110607
  40. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18469288
  41. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23575207

Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-reasons-to-eat-more-protein#section11

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