This is a question we get all the time at Trak Atheltics: “Protein, how much, how often, and why is it so important!?. I’m sure you’ve wondered at times yourself. Our goal is to educate you on why we make certain recommendations so you can go forward making better decisions on your own. If we can get you to a place where you are letting others know why you do what you do, then we’ll be happy people. Here is a clear and concise explanation of why we want you to consume protein.
At TrAk we believe protein is vital to overall health. If possible, every meal you have should contain protein; specifically, some form of complete protein. This is typically easier with animal-based protein (red meat, fish, chicken, and eggs are all complete), but if you are fully vegan or vegetarian it will just require some combination of non-complete protein sources, to make a complete protein. There are a few very solid reasons for the protein emphasis, and this is directed at everyone, it’s not just specific to athletes:
Thanks to Mike Kesthely of Dynamic Nutriton, one of our nutrition mentors, for capturing exactly why protein is important.
1. TEF (Thermic Effect of Food)
Protein is a very costly macronutrient (protein/carbohydrate/fat) to metabolize; we actually BURN calories digesting it. Therefore, from a "lean-out" perspective, it makes sense to include it at every meal.
2. Repairing Skeletal Muscle + Tissues
This is an obvious one---training/exercise creates consistent damage to your muscles and tendons that need to be repaired.
3. Addition of Lean Body Mass
Another obvious one---if we tear it down with training, we need the materials to re-build; contrary to popular belief, a “high-protein” diet will NOT create big, bulky muscles in women---the testosterone and other hormones are just not there like in males. Think long and lean.
Basically, how "satisfied" your brain is after ingesting it. Eating is completely hormonally driven; fat, carbs, and protein all affect hormonal secretion differently. As far as satiety goes, protein is king---a little goes a long way, and it's actually physically impossible to over-eat protein.
5. Fat Storage/Fat Release
No need to go into geeky detail on this one, but I'm going to throw a couple of specific hormones your way: Insulin and Glucagon. Certain sources of proteins (called complete protein remember up top) are very amino-acid dense ((versus stuff like beans), and cause a greater secretion of glucagon, the "release" hormone. Insulin is the master "storage" hormone. We want release. Hence, why we suggest making sure you have complete protein at as many meals as you can (with proper calorie intake).