There is a lot of debate around high protein diets and whether they actually create more long term health problems than positives. Unfortunately there has not been enough long term research to make an educated decision on this. I can however tell you, protein plays a vital role in our body performing at its best.
Many people think of protein as ‘muscle food’ and therefore consume it to gain muscle, or avoid it because they don’t want to appear ‘bulky’. The truth is, protein is vital in the development and maintenance of all body cells, not just muscle. Whenever the body is growing, repairing or replacing tissue, protein is involved.
Whilst an adequate protein intake does play a role in building muscle and/or prevent muscle loss if you are in a calorie deficit, protein alone will not make you have bodybuilder biceps. It will assist in fat burning though.
Protein is the only macronutrient that creates a feeling of satiety (fullness) and actually tells your body to stop eating. Adding a protein rich food to your meal will reduce feelings of hunger, preventing the risk of over eating. This is an important consideration when trying to lose weight. As we know in order to lose weight, we need to take in fewer calories than we burn. Eating protein can help with that by reducing your appetite (calories in) and boosting your metabolic rate (calories out).
But how does protein boost your metabolic rate? Combined with regular weight training, protein assists in muscle growth, and the more muscle mass you have the more energy your body uses even long after you workout. Muscle tissue is the most metabolically active tissue in our bodies so the more muscle you have the more energy you use just to keep living. In simple terms, the more fat your body is constantly burning even when you are resting. As mentioned earlier, unlike carbohydrates and fat, the body can not store sources of protein for future use, therefore regular intake is required. Protein also requires more energy for your body to digest than other macros, thus effectively burning more calories gram for gram throughout the digestion process.