What is your goal? Do you want to build lean muscle or muscle mass? Get into top shape (or keep making progress towards top shape)? Improve your overall well being? Increase focus, concentration, and productivity? Boost your mood? Whatever your health and wellness objective, enjoying a balanced diet is essential in achieving them. The importance of protein in your snacks and meals cannot be overstated: it is a vital macronutrient, and fueling your body with quality foods will help drive you towards your goals.
A Quick Note About Complete Proteins
One of the most touted benefits of a high protein diet is its role in building and maintaining muscle. And that it does. There are 20 amino acids in protein, and our bodies make 11 naturally. We need to get the remaining nine from the foods that we eat. Protein is the only food source that provides the nine essential amino acids necessary to build muscle tissue. If we don’t consume those amino acids, not only do we fail to build muscle, the muscle we have begins to atrophy (i.e. waste away).
When a food contains all 11 essential amino acids, it is considered a “complete” protein. Animal proteins, including our all-natural FATTY smoked meat sticks, Steak Bites, and Turkey and Beef Jerky, are complete proteins, as are quinoa, hemp seed, buckwheat, and soybeans.
You can also combine incomplete proteins to get the benefits you need. A few examples:
- Nut butter on whole wheat bread/toast
- Beans and rice
- Hummus and pita bread
- Refried beans in a tortilla – cheese and lean chicken/turkey for extra credit!
- Beans with nuts/seeds (e.g., a salad with sunflower seeds and chickpeas)
- Seitan paired with meat, tofu, cheese, eggs, or sardines.
Benefits of a High Protein Diet
Protein is a superstar in the diets of athletes and body-builders – and for good reason. But there are myriad other benefits of a high protein diet for everybody:
Protein helps you get to and maintain a healthy weight in two ways:
- You’ll feel full longer and consume fewer calories. Protein-rich foods, like meat, take up to four hours to leave your stomach, so you are full longer than when you eat carbs. Research proves that increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% reduces calorie consumption (which is often mindless or unintentional) by as much as 441 calories. It can also reduce obsessive thoughts of and cravings for snacks.
- You will burn more calories. Protein can give your metabolism a jump start, allowing you to burn calories more quickly.
Fewer calories in, more calories out = making ground towards a healthy weight. And you will not feel deprived as it too often the case with “diets.” Stop dieting; start eating well!
As mentioned, your body needs more time to break down protein than carbohydrates. The energy you get is long-lasting and your insulin levels remain stable. You won’t have to deal with that carbo-rollercoaster of blood sugar ups and downs. Start your day with a protein rich breakfast and include it in each meal and snack. It’s easy to do – and tasty!
More Effective Workouts
You get the double whammy benefit of having stronger muscles and more energy. You can put your all into your workouts, reaping even more rewards. Whether you’re in training, trying to lose weight, toning up, or maintaining, protein is key.
A Stronger Structure
Protein increases your bones’ ability to retain and absorb calcium. It is also the major component of your tendons and ligaments. Give yourself the gift of strong bones, tendons, and ligaments – and delicious, satisfying food. It’s a win-win.
When you experience an injury or feel the burn of an intense workout a day or two later, consuming protein helps accelerate the body’s healing process. You can get back at it much sooner with a proper, protein rich diet.
Good Mood, Anyone?
One of the essential amino acids is tryptophan – the feel good, mood booster found in turkey, cheese, yogurt, fish, and eggs. Eating enough quality protein can help you improve your mood and relieve symptoms associated with depression.
Protein can also aid in concentration and focus, helping you become as productive as possible at work and at play. You will be able to combat that mid-day slump, as well as fatigue and headache by fueling up with FATTY smoked meat stick and other protein-rich foods.
Feel Good, Look Good
Eating well impacts our physical appearance not just in terms of weight and muscle. Protein has been shown to improve the health and appearance of the skin, hair, and nails. It also has anti-aging benefits. As we age, we lose muscle; a high protein diet can help us retain that muscle, keep our bones strong, and ensure we’re able to stay as active as possible for as long as possible.
The importance of protein for our health, well-being, and appearance is clear. It is recommended that you spread out your protein intake throughout the day. If you need a great snack so you can get high quality nutrients even when you’re busy or on the go, grab a pouch of Sweetwood’s Original Steak Bites or a double-wide 2 oz Original FATTY hickory-smoked meat stick. They’re both packed with protein – and not with junk, artificial ingredients, or chemicals. Start reaping the benefits of a high protein diet today!