Protein plays a crucial role in our overall health and body composition. It is the most satiating macronutrient, meaning it keeps us feeling full and satisfied. This is especially important when trying to get lean, as appetite and cravings can be challenging. Protein is closely connected to muscle and fat loss, making it essential for those goals.
As we age, we naturally start to lose muscle mass, a condition known as sarcopenia. Protein becomes even more important in maintaining and building muscle as we get older. Stronger muscles are directly linked to better brain health and function. They help maintain insulin sensitivity and improve the body's ability to dispose of glucose, which can be damaging if not properly managed.
Studies have shown that a high protein intake, around 1 gram per pound of body weight or more, is beneficial for preserving muscle mass during a calorie deficit. Even without strength training, individuals on a high protein diet lose less muscle compared to those with lower protein intake. When combined with strength training, a high protein intake can lead to muscle growth.
It's worth noting that protein can be harder to come by in our food choices compared to fats and carbohydrates. Food manufacturers tend to focus on making food more palatable by adding fats and sugars, while protein is often overlooked. This can make it challenging to consistently meet our protein intake goals.
In summary, protein is essential for muscle preservation, growth, and overall health. It helps with satiety, supports brain function, and plays a significant role in body composition. Aim for a high protein intake, especially during a calorie deficit, to maximize muscle retention and potentially build muscle while burning fat.