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Every fitness enthusiast knows that protein is the most important macronutrient.
And if you work out hard you already have felt that without protein nothing BIG can happen. (except unsatisfactory results). Besides, the lack of protein in your diet can lead to a slower metabolism, slower recovery, and health problems in general.
Protein is a building block for our muscles, bones, cartilage, skin, hair, and blood.
But do you actually know what does it do when you take it? Do you know how protein really helps when we talk about creating a strong and good looking body?
Here we’re going to take a look at the 3 most important aspects of consuming protein.
- Helps You Recover Faster
- Boosts Metabolism and Increases Fat Burning
- Increases Muscle Mass and Strength
First, let’s be clear.
Only eating protein without doing the hard work in the gym won’t help you so much. Yes, it will keep you alive, which is one of the main responsibilities of protein. But that way you won’t perform significant muscle and strength improvements.
Let’s dive into details.
1) How Does Protein Help For Faster Recovery?
The way you can build muscle is by damaging them in the first place. In fact, if you don’t do mini damage to your muscle there is nothing that protein can repair. And I don’t talk about real damage like a major tear that will keep you on the sidelines.
When you do intense exercise like resistance training, little micro-tears occur in your muscles. And they need to be repaired.
Here comes the place of protein.
Protein is essential because it’s created by amino acids. In turn, amino acids are responsible for most of the reactions and processes in living cells.
After eating protein your body breaks it down into amino acid parts, which brings us back to your damaged muscles. The damage causes your body to string together amino acids into new proteins to repair the micro-tears.
The process of recovery is very important. You can’t go to the gym and start pumping iron when you have not recovered from the previous exercise session.
But let’s take a look at the goal of every fitness lover…
2) Increase Muscle Mass and Strength
When you finish the workout the damage causes your body to string together amino acids into new proteins to repair the micro-tears. In other words, your body starts to repair.
The same process helps with muscle gain. It also helps with a strength depending on your workouts.
Actually, after resistance training, your body repairs damaged muscle fibers through a cellular process. This process fuses muscle fibers together to form new muscle protein strands or myofibrils. In turn, these repaired myofibrils make the muscles bigger.
Actually, they increase in thickness and number to create muscle hypertrophy (growth).
If we look more detailed this is the moment where satellite cells come in and act like stem cells for your muscles.
And before you get lost around some unknown terms let’s take a glance at this type of cells:
- Satellite cells -> Think of satellite cells as fast-acting guys strategically situated on the outside of mature muscle fibers. They are on permanent standby in the event of muscle damage. When signaled, these relatively sleeping cells wake up, engage, and rise to the occasion by proliferating at the site of muscle damage.
- Stem cells -> Stem cells are the body’s raw materials. All other cells with specialized functions are generated from them. Under the right condition, stem cells can divide into other cells. For instance, blood, brain, heart, or bone cells. No other cell in the body has the natural ability to generate new cell types.
When satellite cells are activated they help to add more nuclei to the muscle cells. Thus, they contribute directly to the growth of muscle cells.
Activating satellite cells is the most important thing when we talk about muscle growth!
In fact, that’s the difference between what allows “genetic freaks” to grow massive muscles and what makes other people “hard-gainers”.
Muscle growth only occurs when you have enough amino acids to repair all the micro-tears plus some extra leftover. The extra amino acid can be used for further muscle growth bulking you up.
But if you don’t have enough amino acids, your muscles won’t heal, you won’t bulk up and you increase the chance of injuries and muscle loss. To prevent that you need to consume enough protein.
And last but not least…
3) Consuming Protein Boosts Metabolism and Increases Fat Burning
This may come as a surprise, but consuming lean protein may speed up your metabolism.
After you eat some of the calories of the food are used for digestion. This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). The TEF refers to the number of calories needed by your body to digest, absorb, and process the nutrients in your meals.
Protein has a much higher thermic effect (20-30%) compared with carbohydrates, which have 5-10% and 0-3% for fat.
This means if you consume 100 calories from protein only 70 of them are usable. The rest 30 calories will be burned in digestion.
That’s why successful bodybuilders add plenty of protein in almost every meal. Thus they keep their metabolic rate higher.
As I mentioned in the previous paragraph protein helps build and support the maintenance of muscle in the body.
What’s so special about that?
Well, the more muscle your body hosts, the higher your resting metabolic rate. (baseline calories burned at rest).
So, boosted metabolism helps you burn more calories around the clock EVEN when you sleep.
Also, protein helps stabilise blood sugar. In turn, it prevents insulin spikes in the body.
It’s very important because if your blood sugar is unstable and rises, your body is more likely to store fat.
Protein is essential for our bodies. In fact, our cells can’t survive without the amino acids, which are the main components of protein.
The process of repairing the muscle is pretty important because that is the time when all your efforts in the gym will be аwarded.
When you wake up your satellite cells you’ll perform significant muscle growth! Unfortunately, the genetic factor plays a huge role here as well.
The thermic effect of protein is much higher compared with other macronutrients.
And when you managed to boost your metabolism you start burning fat on autopilot. In other words, boosted metabolism will transform you into a fat-burning machine (even DURING sleep).
If you are a lifter who requires regular intake of high natural protein, besmoothies offer you 65g of high protein from lean chicken breast meat, not made from whey powder or any artificial ingredients.
Credit: BE Protein Smoothies