Proteins are one of the essential nutrients providing energy like carbohydrates and helps building the body tissues. Proteins are molecules comprising of many amino acids. That they are made of amino acids required for various metabolic functions of the body, makes proteins unique.
Amino acids are essential for humans and most of it are provided by proteins only. Based on the contents of amino acids, source of the protein is classified as of plant or animal origin and their quality graded as high, moderate or low.
Some such important sources of protein are grains, legumes and nuts from plants and meats, dairy products, fish and eggs from animals. A number of food items have proteins in them and the quality of protein differ according to the type of amino acids present in them.
A combination of various foods is considered as appropriate for acquiring the required amount of protein for a normal person. The amount of protein required varies from person to person based on their physical activity levels. In the case of athletes and those who regularly work out, in addition to natural sources of protein in their regular food intake, special types of protein rich foods or protein supplements are available.
Protein consumed is split into amino acids and their derivatives in the gastrointestinal tract. Here the source of protein is important to determine the level of absorption.
How does protein help in weight loss?
While consumption of protein is essential for everybody, a person attempting to reduce weight is required to be more protein dependent in view of its ability to prevent weight gain and aid weight loss in one stroke.
The first best technique involved in a weight loss program is to ensure energy balance. That is to measure the calories consumed and energy burnt, making the quantity of intake , activity and exercise important factors.
Like carbohydrates, proteins are also energy suppliers. In spite of being an energy supplier, protein make the body burn more calories. When a high protein food is consumed it takes more energy from the body to digest and metabolize due to which more calories are burnt.
A high protein food not only takes out more calories to burn itself but also remains in the stomach for a longer time thereby giving a sense of full stomach preventing consumption of further food. Therefore, a person needing to lose weight, need to watch the total intake of food with reference to the calories provided by each food. High quality protein give a sense of full stomach and defer next consumption of food leading to overall reduced intake of calories aiding weight loss. In other words more protein content in the food prevent excess calories intake, rather prompt low calories intake.
Role of amino acids
Amino acids in protein strengthen muscles and make them lose weight as more fat is burnt. The twin benefits of protein are gaining muscle strength and losing fat, which are essential in any weight loss program.
A protein-rich breakfast consumed in the morning regulates the appetite throughout the day due to which only less than normal calories are consumed.
Blood sugar level is contained by consuming high quality protein along with carbohydrate rich foods. Such a combination slows down the absorption of sugar from the food into the blood stream and also defer the next course of consumption.
Protein has a higher “Thermic Effect of Food” in comparison with other forms of food. TEF is the energy required to break the food consumed into smaller and absorbable components. The high TEF of protein exhausts more energy from the body preventing weight gain and aiding weight loss.
As the weight loss procedure starts, the body tends to lose both fat and muscle. It is very important to increase protein intake to burn out only fat and retain thin and strong muscle. The amino acids in protein help build lean and strong muscles. Strengthening of muscles is vital in the weight reduction program.
Benefit of protein consumption
Consumption of protein only adds to body weight but its function in metabolism of fat and carbohydrates involves reduction of weight indirectly.
Any weight reduction program must pay attention to the amount of calories consumed. Since protein rich foods are not necessarily high in calories, their ability to retain the feeling of fullness of stomach for a longer time makes them indispensable in weight loss program. Moreover protein consumption increases the activity level of the body, burning more calories facilitating weight loss.
Another important benefit of protein consumption for weight loss is that a rich protein breakfast leads to more satiety throughout the day and prevent consumption of unhealthy snacks or other fried foods. Thus protein is an excellent appetite controller much needed for weight loss.
Consumption of high level of protein is carcinogenic, more so when the protein is of animal origin. Excess protein consumed is excreted as the body cannot retain it as long as the functioning of the kidneys are perfect. People with kidney disorders must consume only appropriate level of protein so as not to burden the kidneys. Production of more urea and stone is also another risk encountered.