Protein is a well-known component for overall health. But how does it work and how much does one need? Frankly not as much as some diet gurus proclaim.
Some new diet plans encourage the dieter to consume 40%+ of their daily diet in protein, mostly meat protein. Why? Unless one is a body builder, this is not only unnecessary but dangerous! Meat is acidic and too much produces a dangerous pH level that is susceptible to chronic illnesses such as heart disease and various cancers.
Most dieters should be aware that vegetables, legumes, beans, corn, wheat, nuts all contain beneficial protein. As many know, rice or corn with beans is considered a complete protein with no saturated fat.
Protein foods only last in the body for 2-4 hours. Fatty meats, such as spare ribs, bacon, prime rib, rib eye and bratwurst are very high in saturated fat and are considered more of a fat than a protein. Of course there’s protein but the body is also absorbing 60% of fat with every bite. Visualize that as pure lard and suddenly it’s not so enticing.
Remember anything is acceptable in moderation, meaning “once in a while,” as is professed in 1 Corinthians 10:23. Select wisely. Pair higher fat choices with a high fiber baked potato, baked apples, corn on the cob, baked beans or a salad rather than coleslaw, macaroni or potato salad. These high fiber foods help escort fat out of your system faster. (Fat lasts in your system for 5-7 hours.)
As in any metabolic functions, balance is key. Some form of protein should be eaten at each meal for ultimate weight control but 6-8 ounces of meat is all anyone needs daily. Consume too much protein and it affects the kidneys and liver. Too little and the body breaks down muscle tissue for energy. Protein builds muscles, repairs tissues and promotes good mental health. But of the three major food groups of protein, fats and carbohydrates, protein is the lesser one we need, about 15-20%. Surprised?
Protein can factor into weight loss metabolism if one uses common sense. Let me give you an example. Yogurt is a packed with protein but full-fat yogurt contains 50% fat. Low-fat (1%) yogurts has only a 20% fat content. The body doesn’t need to work as hard to break down the fat before it utilizes that valuable protein.
Protein helps burn up fat in three important ways:
- When you consume a protein food, you’ll use 25-35% of caloric energy to digest it.
- Protein helps to suppress the appetite simply by the fact that it stays in your system longer (2-4 hours) than sugary carbs (1-2 hours) and thus slows down glucose metabolism. When insulin levels remain steady, it reduces hunger. You’ll have fewer cravings, remain in control and eat less.
- Then, of course, protein builds muscle and muscle burns fat. It’s like a car engine that produces energy while you drive it or even as it idles at a stop sign.
So what are the best high protein foods? Try these for maximum health: Spinach, avocado, baked beans, broccoli, white cheese, asparagus, carrots, chicken, beef filet, fish, cottage cheese, low fat milk, tofu and peanut butter. But you also might be surprised to find potatoes, coconut, whole wheat bread, pasta, hummus, nuts, oranges, eggs and bananas on the list! Supposedly “off-limits” food!
God gave us an abundance of quality food for an enriching life. Enjoy a healthy life!
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Coming soon: How specific nutrients found in protein burn fat.