Some weeks back we gave some tips on eating to lose weight. Today, we’re focusing on the value of protein in the diet because there is more to say. A few years ago a New York Times article questioned how much protein we actually need. The author stated that the recommended daily protein intake for a healthy adult is 56 grams for males and 46 for females. The author also cited some consumer research that stated that about 60% of Americans were increasing the amount of protein they eat every day. My problem with the article is that it is misleading and by such a reputable outlet as the New York Times. Thankfully we base the content of our posts on actual science.
The first inaccuracy we need to tackle is the notion that the recommended daily allowance or RDA that we so frequently hear about is the perfect amount of whatever nutrient that is recommended. In fact, RDA is the minimum amount of a nutrient that should be consumed in order to stay healthy. In the case of protein, 56 grams for males and 46 grams for females is the minimum amount of protein that should be consumed daily to prevent the development of health problems. On further examination, you’d find that the Food and Nutrition Board, where these recommendations come from originally recommended 0.8g/kg of protein per day for adults. So you would have to be the proverbial “98lb weakling” to survive on 46 to 56 grams of protein per day.
There has also been this myth that we could hit some dangerous level of daily protein consumption that would destroy our kidneys and liver. Again, it’s a good thing that we have science to tell us that excess protein does not stay in our bodies, nor does it turn into fat. Our bodies are marvelous machines, but they can’t turn muscle or its building blocks into fat. If we eat more protein than our bodies need at the current time, we literally flush it down the toilet in about 36 hours.
Nothing but the truth
Contrary to popular but inaccurate reports, besides being the building blocks of our bodies, and the main ingredient in every enzyme and chemical messenger that enables our bodies to function normally, protein also has the following added effects.
- It keeps you feeling full longer so you don’t binge on carbs. A number of studies show that of the three macronutrients, protein satisfies your appetite more than carbs or fat.
- It speeds up your metabolism. Food has an interesting side effect when it is being digested that actually raises your metabolic rate. It’s called the “thermic effect of food”. When it comes to protein, the effect lasts longer than with the digestion of carbs or fat, and more energy is required to digest protein than carbs or fat.
- It maintains your lean muscle. I’ve mentioned the research before that revealed that even if you reduce your daily calorie intake but keep your daily protein intake high, you maintain your muscle mass, and if you lose weight, the weight loss is all fat.
So I ask you please, to pour on the protein.