High-protein diets are often recommended to help build muscle and lose fat. These diets including Atkins, Paleo, and the Zone, work on the basis of calories consumed from protein which will help you stay full for longer. Researchers do not understand exactly how protein lessens appetite. They surmise it may be a high-protein diet causes the brain to receive lower levels of appetite-stimulating hormones.

Protein: How it’s a Solution to a Healthy Lifestyle

Muscle building: Protein plays a crucial role in the growth and repair of the body, including skin, hair, nails, and muscles. According to the Institute of Health’s Dietary Reference Intake (DRI), up to 35 percent of your daily intake of calories should come from protein. A sufficiently high protein diet, a proper workout routine, and an ideal calorie intake are the three basic requirements for building muscle.  In addition, eating high protein foods at certain ideal times will help the body recover from an intense workout. During weightlifting or strength training, your muscles are broken down, so they can be rebuilt stronger than before. Research shows that protein facilitates this process.

Fat and weight loss: People often say they want to lose weight when they simply wish to lose their extra fat. Eating a high protein diet is the key dietary factor in preserving lean muscle while shedding body fat.

Staying full: Of the three macronutrients that provide our daily calories (protein, carbs, and fat), research shows that protein is the most filling. A high protein diet will keep you full and satisfied, controlling hunger.

Burn calories: Protein is the nutrient that burns the most calories while being digested. Eating a high protein diet will increase the number of calories your body naturally burns each day.

Metabolism: Protein-rich foods are known to accelerate the metabolic process. For people who are physically active, a lot of protein is necessary for their diets.

Amino Acids: The protein contained in the food that we eat helps provide necessary amino acids that are utilized by the cells in our body to build new proteins and repair muscles.

Hormones: Protein also helps the body build hormones, antibodies and the enzymes that regulate the chemical reactions that occur in the body.

Originally popular with athletes: High protein diets have always been popular with athletes. Their popularity has greatly increased during the past 5 years with the introduction of the low carb type diets to the public that includes high protein foods. If you don’t exercise, you can eat a moderate amount of high protein foods without gaining weight. On the other hand, athletes and people on muscle building diets must eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight in order to build muscle.

Recommended food sources: Here is the list of some common protein-rich foods that you can include in your diet.

Legumes: Soybeans are number one source of protein. You will get about twelve grams of protein in one cup of soybeans. Soybeans can be made into milk, tofu, or ground to make soy tea. You can make a very healthy bean salad by just mixing home-cooked or preserved beans with a small amount of olive oil, red wine vinegar. Add other chopped veggies if desired. Edamame are whole, young soybeans which can be boiled for about ten minutes until tender.

Almonds: Almonds are the best option for those who are allergic to peanuts or do not like soy. Almond milk is rich in protein, vitamins, zinc, iron, and fiber. Moreover, flavonoids in almonds decrease bad (HDL) cholesterol levels in your body.

Shrimp: Shrimp is a seafood that is particularly rich in animal protein.  And its high levels of zinc increases your brain’s functioning, improving memory as well as the ability to concentrate.

Peanuts: Peanuts contain twenty-five percent more proteins per gram than other nuts. Besides the protein, they also contain antioxidants, resveratrol, and niacin to slow down the aging process and improve blood circulation. You can eat peanuts roasted, in peanut butter, or as part of other recipes, such as Thai peanut chicken.

Chicken: Another great source of protein is lean chicken. Chicken proteins contain many essential amino acids. Eat chicken with rice – it’s very good for your digestive system. Try to choose skinless chicken: the skin acts as a latex glove, holding all the fat in. Approximately 45-75 percent of the fat in chicken is from its skin.

Potential side effects: The biggest health risk with a high protein diet is if the diet is also low carb. Fruits and veggies are also needed for their nutritious value. Consequentially, a protein only diet should only be eaten for a short period (three to five days) and then combined with vegetables and other essential foods. By changing your diet daily – one-day pure protein, the next protein + fruit and vegetables – you can ensure that you get the nutrients your body needs.

Consuming too much protein may lead to kidney problems.  To reduce the risk of kidney problems, it is vital to increase your water consumption and make sure you are drinking at least 1.5 liters of water a day. Choosing lean protein will also minimize this risk.

Conclusion: High protein is the key component of many diets. This is because protein keeps you full for longer, and of the three macronutrients, it is most difficult to digest. Proteins are essential to building muscle, repairing tissue, skin, hair and immune system health. High protein diets that also allow unlimited fats (Atkins, Paleo), can cause halitosis and kidney problems. If you are going high protein, try to limit your consumption of saturated fat to avoid these problems.