Add Protein to Your Diet
Making Protein Choices to Boost Energy and Improve Your Health. Protein is in many of the foods that we eat every day, but for something so common, it’s often a misunderstood part of our diets. Think of protein and you might think of steak sizzling on a grill, an energy bar touting to banish fatigue, or a protein shake promising muscle growth. Yes, these foods are all packed with protein, but when it comes to making the best protein choices to keep your body and mind healthy, quality is just as important as quantity. When eating a meal, eat the protein source first, especially before you get to the starches. Protein increases the production of PYY, a gut hormone that makes you feel full and satisfied. In addition, a high protein intake decreases levels of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin and increases your metabolic rate after eating and during sleep. What’s more, eating protein first can help keep your blood sugar and insulin level from rising too high after a meal. In a small study, people with type 2 diabetes were served identical meals on different days. Blood sugar and insulin rose significantly less when they consumed protein and vegetables before high-carb food, compared to when the order was reversed. Muscles are made largely of protein.
As with most tissues in the body, muscles are dynamic and are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. To gain muscle, the body must be synthesizing more muscle protein than it is breaking down. In other words, there needs to be a net positive protein balance (often called nitrogen balance, because protein is high in nitrogen) in the body. For this reason, people who want a lot of muscle will need to eat a greater amount of protein (and lift heavy things, of course). It is well documented that higher protein intake helps build muscle and strength. Also, people who want to hold on to muscle that they’ve already built may need to increase their protein intake when losing body fat, because a high protein intake can help prevent the muscle loss that usually occurs when dieting. When it comes to muscle mass, the studies are usually not looking at percentage of calories, but daily grams of protein per unit of body weight (kilograms or pounds). A common recommendation for gaining muscle is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight or 2.2 grams of protein per kg. Numerous studies have tried to determine the optimal amount of protein for muscle gain and many of them have reached different conclusions. Some studies show that over 0.8 grams per pound have no benefit, while others show that Intakes slightly higher than 1 gram of protein per pound is best. Although it’s hard to give exact figures because of conflicting results in studies, 0.7-1 grams (give or take) per pound of body weight seems to be a reasonable estimate If you’re carrying a lot of body fat, then it is a good idea to use either your lean mass or your goal weight, instead of total body weight, because it’s mostly your lean mass that determines the amount of protein you need.
Eat Whole, Single-Ingredient Foods
One of the best things you can do to become healthier is to base your diet on whole, single-ingredient foods. By doing this, you eliminate the vast majority of added sugar, added fat and processed food. Most whole foods are naturally very filling, making it a lot easier to keep within healthy calorie limits. Furthermore, eating whole foods also provides your body with the many essential nutrients that it needs to function properly. Weight loss often follows as a natural “side effect” of eating whole foods. Satiety is a term used to explain the feeling of fullness and loss of appetite that happens after eating.
A scale called the satiety index measures this effect. It was developed in 1995, in a study that tested 240-calorie servings of 38 different foods.
The foods were ranked according to their ability to satisfy hunger. Foods that scored higher than 100 were considered more filling, while foods that scored under 100 were considered less filling.
What this means is that eating foods that score higher on the satiety index can help you eat fewer calories overall.
Filling foods tend to have the following characteristics:
High in protein:
Studies show that protein is the most filling macronutrient. It changes the levels of several satiety hormones, including ghrelin and GLP-1.
High in fibre:
Fibre provides bulk and helps you feel full for longer. Fibre may slow down the emptying of the stomach and increase digestion time.
High in volume:
Some foods contain a lot of water or air. This may help with satiety as well. This means that a food is low in calories for its weight. Foods with a low energy density are very filling. They typically contain a lot of water and fibre but are low in fat.
Low in energy density:
This means that a food is low in calories for its weight. Foods with a low energy density are very filling. They typically contain a lot of water and fibre but are low in fat.
In fact, boiled potatoes scored a 323 on the satiety index, which is the highest number of all 38 foods tested. They scored nearly 7 times higher than croissants, which scored the lowest. One study found that eating boiled potatoes with pork steak led to lower calorie intake during the meal, compared to eating the steak with white rice or pasta. Some evidence indicates that part of the reason why potatoes are so filling is that they contain a protein called proteinase inhibitor 2 (PI2). This protein may suppress appetite.
Most of the nutrients are found in the yolks, including the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may benefit eye health. Eggs are a great source of high-quality protein. A large egg contains around 6 grams of protein, including all 9 essential amino acids. Eggs are also very filling and score high on the satiety index. One study found that eating eggs for breakfast, rather than a bagel, increased fullness and led to less calorie intake over the next 36 hours.
Fish is loaded with high-quality protein. Fish is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fats that we must get from food. According to one study, omega-3 fatty acids may increase the feeling of fullness in people who are overweight or obese. Additionally, some studies indicate that the protein in fish may have a stronger effect on fullness than other sources of protein.
Vegetables are incredibly nutritious. They’re loaded with all sorts of vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds. Vegetables are also high-volume, low-calorie foods. They contain fiber and water, which adds bulk to your meals and helps fill you up. Moreover, vegetables take some time to chew and are very satisfying in that way.
Avoid Processed Food
If you look at the ingredients label for a processed, packaged food, chances are that you won’t have a clue what some of the ingredients are. That’s because many of the ingredients in there aren’t actual food… they are artificial chemicals that are added for various purposes. This is an example of processed food, an Atkins Advantage bar, which is actually marketed as a low-carb friendly health food. I don’t know what this is, but it most certainly isn’t food.
Highly processed foods often contain:
Chemicals that prevent food from rotting.
Chemicals that are used to give the food a specific color.
Chemicals that give the food a particular flavor.
Chemicals that give a particular texture.
Keep in mind that processed foods can contain dozens of additional chemicals that aren’t even listed on the label. For example, “artificial flavor” is a proprietary blend. Manufacturers don’t have to disclose exactly what it means and it is usually a combination of chemicals. For this reason, if you see “artificial flavor” on an ingredients list, it could mean that there are 10 or more additional chemicals that are blended in to give a specific flavor. Of course, most of these chemicals have allegedly been tested for safety. But given that the regulatory authorities still think that sugar and vegetable oil are safe, I personally take their “stamp of approval” with a grain of salt. Processed foods are extremely low in essential nutrients compared to whole, unprocessed foods. In some cases, synthetic litamins and minerals are added to the foods to compensate for what was lost during processing. However, synthetic nutrients are NOT a good replacement for the nutrients found in whole foods. Also, let’s not forget that real foods contain much more than just the standard vitamins and minerals that we’re all familiar with.
Stock up on Healthy Food and Snacks
The apple is high in fibre, vitamin C and numerous antioxidants. Apples are very fulfilling and perfect as snacks if you find yourself hungry between meals.
Avocados are different than most fruits, because they are loaded with healthy fats instead of carbs. They are creamy, tasty and high in fibre, potassium and vitamin C.
Bananas are among the worlds’ best sources of potassium. They are also high in vitamin B6 and fibre. Bananas are ridiculously convenient and portable.
Blueberries are not only delicious but also among the most powerful sources of antioxidants in the world.
Oranges are well known for their vitamin C content. They are also high in fibre, antioxidants and taste incredible.
Strawberries are highly nutritious and are low in both carbs and calories. They are loaded with vitamin C, fibre and manganese, and are arguably among the most delicious foods in existence.
Other Healthy Fruits
There are many other healthy fruits and berries that aren’t listed here. Some examples: Cherries, grapes, grapefruit, kiwi, lemon, mango, melons, olives, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums and raspberries.
Limit Your Intake of Added Sugar
Added sugars (like sucrose and high fructose corn syrup) contain a whole bunch of calories with NO essential nutrients. When people eat up to 10-20% of calories as sugar (or more), This can become a major problem and contribute to nutrient deficiencies. In order to understand what is so bad about sugar, then you need to understand what it is made of. Before sugar enters the bloodstream from the digestive tract, it is broken down into two simple sugars… glucose and fructose. Glucose is found in every living cell on the planet. If we don’t get it from the diet, our bodies produce it. Fructose is different. Our bodies do not produce it in any significant amount and there is no physiological need for it. The thing with fructose is that it can only be metabolized by the liver in any significant amounts. This is not a problem if we eat a little bit (such as from fruit) or we just finished an exercise session. In this case, the fructose will be turned into glycogen and stored in the liver until we need it. However, if the liver is full of glycogen (much more common), eating a lot of fructose overloads the liver, forcing it to turn the fructose into fat. When repeatedly eating large amounts of sugar, this process can lead to fatty liver and all sorts of serious problems. Keep in mind that all of this does NOT apply to fruit. It is almost impossible to Overeat fructose by eating fruit. There is also massive individual variability here. People who are healthy and active can tolerate more sugar than people who are inactive and eat a Western, high-carb, high-calorie diet.
Some people claim that drinking water before a meal reduces appetite. There actually seems to be some truth behind this, but almost exclusively in middle-aged and older adults. Studies of older adults have shown that drinking water before each meal may increase weight loss by 2 kg (4.4 lbs) over a 12-week. In one study, middle-aged overweight and obese participants who drank water before each meal lost 44% more weight, compared to a group that did not drink more water. Another study also showed that drinking water before breakfast reduced the number of calories consumed during the meal by 13%. Although this may be very beneficial for middle-aged and older people, studies of younger individuals have not shown the same impressive reduction in calorie intake. Since water is naturally calorie-free, it is generally linked with reduced calorie intake. This is mainly because you then drink water instead of other beverages, which are often high in calories and sugar. Observational studies have shown that people who drink mostly water have up to a 9% (or 200 calories) lower calorie intake, on average. Drinking water may also help prevent long-term weight gain. In general, the average person gains about 1.45 kg (3.2 lbs) every 4 years.
This amount may be reduced by
Adding 1 cup of water
Increasing your daily water consumption by 1 cup may reduce this weight gain by 0.13 kg (0.23 lbs).
Replacing other drink with water
Substituting a serving of a sugar-sweetened beverage with 1 cup of water may reduce the 4- year weight gain by 0.5 kg (1.1 lbs). It is especially important to encourage children to drink water, as it can help prevent them from becoming overweight or obese. A recent, school-based study aimed to reduce obesity rates by encouraging children to drink water. They installed water fountains in 17 schools and provided classroom lessons about water consumption for 2nd and 3rd graders. After one school year, the risk of obesity had been reduced by a whopping 31 in the school where water intake was increased.
How much water should you drink in a day