Protein Primer Part 2: 3 Ways Protein Optimizes Your Health
By Shannon Crocker MSc RD, Vibrant Nutrition Communications
In Protein Primer Part 2, we’re talking about some of the health benefits of protein.
Why do you need protein?
Protein plays an important role in building, maintaining and repairing your body every day. It’s used to make enzymes, hormones and other compounds needed for health. Protein is also used as fuel, or energy, especially when you don’t get enough calories from carbohydrates or fat.
How does protein play a role in your health?
Including enough protein in your diet is important for added health benefits beyond the basic functions listed above. Here are three ways protein optimizes your health:
- Protein is an active muscle booster. Protein helps build and repair your muscles, so you can reach your physical activity goals. Eating a snack with high quality protein (e.g. turkey, Greek yogurt, eggs) within two hours after exercise can help maximize muscle repair and growth so you’re ready to hit the gym, soccer field, hilly hiking trails or hot yoga studio again.
- Protein helps keep you strong as you age. To maintain muscle health and keep you strong as you age, a high protein intake is recommended. Most of us load up on protein at dinner, but we don’t get enough at breakfast.
A smart strategy for aging is to bump up your protein intake at breakfast to about 30 grams. A 100-gram serving of turkey gives you about 30 grams of high quality protein.
- In a sandwich: A Gobbler Sandwich is a super grab n’ go breakfast that you can eat while you commute on the train, bus or in the car (if you are not driving!).
- Mixed with eggs: Leftover cooked turkey or turkey sausage can be enjoyed along side eggs or added to a frittata; make this Goat Cheese Frittata on the weekend, keep it in the fridge and heat up a slice for a quick weekday breakfast.
- In a breakfast burrito or a crepe: Try Creamy Turkey Crepes, made with leftover turkey. Tasty for a weekend breakfast when you have a little more time.
- Protein helps with healthy weight management. Eating protein-rich foods at meals and snacks can help you feel satisfied/full longer than carbohydrate foods alone. That’s partly because protein increases hormones that help you feel full. And that’s a bonus when it comes to healthy weight management. How? When your appetite is satisfied and you don’t have a desire to eat, you’ll be less likely to overeat.
Getting enough protein can also boost calorie burning; a high protein intake preserves muscle mass while you lose weight. And that helps with weight management because lean muscle mass burns more calories (energy) than body fat.
All this is good news, turkey lovers!
Emerging research suggests that protein from animal sources, like turkey, is especially good at promoting lean muscle and improving satiety. Each 100-gram serving of turkey has about 30 grams of high quality protein, so turkey can help you feel energized and satisfied and help keep your muscles healthy and happy. Enjoying turkey at your meals is an easy and delicious way to help meet your protein needs.
For more on the basics of protein, why you need it and where you can get the quality protein you need, check out Protein Primer Part 1: Protein 101. Watch for our Protein Primer Part 3 in our July newsletter where we’ll be taking a look at how turkey can make your healthy plate even healthier.