Top seven reasons you need quality protein
Protein supports fat loss.
A diet that is high in quality protein and that restricts carbohydrate intake, even when total calories from fat remains constant, has consistently been shown to yield the most significant improvements in fat and weight loss, and improve cardiovascular function and other health measures.1
Whey protein optimizes transformation goals.
In a recent scientific review article, researchers concluded that whey protein can be used as an effective and powerful tool to transform one’s body and health. The article also provides strong evidence that whey protein supports a person’s ability to achieve their ideal weight, and can also support healthy blood glucose and insulin sensitivity (e.g., in response to strenuous exercise). It also stimulates the production of gut hormones involved in reducing hunger and burning fat.2
Protein supports healthy muscle mass and a healthy immune system.
The importance of supporting skeletal muscle as a primary factor for a robust immune system and overall good health cannot be overstated. Specifically, chronically exercised skeletal muscle is paramount to leading a healthy, robust life. Supporting that muscle and reducing its loss (from poor nutrition, aging, inactivity, environmental factors, or illness) is critical to one’s quality of life.
For example, did you know that muscles release signaling molecules that communicate with the brain, liver, pancreas, bones, fat tissue, and many other organs? The healthier and more active your muscles, the healthier your overall immune system response will be.3
Protein is a hard gainer’s go-to nutrient.
Putting on solid muscle really is a reflection of the saying, “You are what you eat.” A person who consumes more quality protein, along with healthy diet and exercise, will pack on more quality muscle (skeletal protein), verses those who primarily eat high-glycemic carbs or fat. In fact, a recent review study concluded that lean men and women require at least 1.1–1.5 grams of quality protein per pound of lean body mass, per day, just to maintain muscle mass when training regularly and calories consumed are lower than calories expended.4
Fast protein helps protect vital muscle as your age.
Not only do you move more slowly as you age, but your body also has a less robust response to exercise and protein. However, “fast” proteins and extensively hydrolyzed protein (“pre-digested” proteins) have been shown to provide older muscle with the ability to respond with youth-like sensitivity. Specifically, a diet that’s higher in protein than carbohydrates offers the greatest benefit for helping you maintain vital muscle mass and strength—the two factors most highly correlated with health and quality of life in later years.5
An important note is that older populations, both under resting and post-exercise conditions, have an observed slower response to protein versus their younger counterparts. Whey protein and extensively hydrolyzed protein have been shown to counteract this age-related difference.6-8
Protein is required for bodily function.
Your body uses the structural elements of protein to manufacture critically necessary biological proteins that literally affect all of your body’s physiological processes. For example, enzymes are a class of proteins used within your body for metabolic and chemical reactions.
Other proteins are required to transport substances into, within, or from a cell, as well as through your body’s circulatory system. Similarly, proteins are required for the composition and function of all of your body’s hormones and cellular receptors, and proteins are a major source of energy production for your body.9-10
Protein is essential to life.
Protein, like water and essential fatty acids, is critical to supporting life and must be consumed frequently and in abundance each day. Dietary protein represents the sole source of useable nitrogen for the human body. In addition, the amino acids in protein are the building blocks of your DNA and represent the structural elements that provide form within your body.9-10
Soy and casein protein exposed
Many years ago, as the Editor-in-Chief of Muscle & Fitness and Muscle & Fitness Hers magazines, I coined the phrase, “survive vs. thrive” to explain the differences between the types of commercially available proteins.
After studying the effects of different proteins, it became clear that plant proteins were put on this earth for survival in times of need. However, to thrive—literally excel in life and health—whey protein stands alone. One only needs to acknowledge that up to 92% of the protein in early human breast milk is composed of whey protein to begin to appreciate the body’s preference and need for this particular kind of protein. 11 The scientific evidence of whey protein’s superiority, versus cheaper proteins, such as soy, rice, pea or casein, continues to mount.
Whey protein has clearly been shown to:
Reduce hunger response, versus casein or soy protein12
Provide a more significant effect on markers of insulin sensitivity response and healthy blood glucose than soy or casein protein12
Drastically reduce the cortisol (stress-hormone) response to exercise, whereas soy protein consumption significantly lowered men’s serum testosterone levels13
Stimulate muscle protein synthesis at rest or in response to strenuous resistance training more effectively than soy or casein protein14
These studies only scratch the surface, but also confirm that if you want to improve your health and body, consuming a high, whey protein-based diet is the optimal way to reach your body transformation goals.
¹ Petzke KJ et al. Int J Mol Sci 2014;15:1374–91.
² Sousa GTD et al. Lipids Health Dis 2012;11:67.
³ Pedersen BK & Febbraio MA. Nat Rev Endocrinol 2012;8(8):457–65.
4 Helms ER et al. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2014;24(2):127–38.
5 McLean RR et al. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2014;69(5):576–83.
6 Dickinson JM et al. Clin Nutr 2013;32(2):273–80.
7 Paddon-Jones D & Leidy H. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 2014;17(1):5–11.
8Yang Y et al. Br J Nutr 2012;108(10):1780–8.
9 Chou CJ et al. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci 2012;108:51–74.
10 Biesalski HGK, ed. Pocket Atlas of Nutrition. 2005, Thieme: New York.
11 Kunz C & Lonnerdal B. Acta Paediatrica 1992; 81:107–12. Hulmi JJ et al. Nutr Metab 2010; 7:51.
12Veldhorst et al. Physiol Behav 2009;96(4–5):675-82.
13 Kraemer et al. J Am Coll Nutr 2013;32(1):66–74.
14 Tang et al. J Appl Physiol 2009;107(3):987–92 (Specifically, whey was 93% and 18% more effective than casein and soy at increasing resting muscle protein synthesis for up to 180 minutes. In response to exercise, whey was 122% and 31% more effective than casein and soy.)