IF THERE’S ONE MOST IMPORTANT MACRO:
It’s definitely protein. Especially if you’re an active person with goals to feel leaner, get stronger and become more fit.
Two scenarios: you’re eating slightly more calories than you need to gain muscle (maintenance/surplus) or you’re eating slightly less calories than you need to lose fat (deficit).
As long as you’re eating enough protein while in a calorie maintenance phase, you’ll maximize lean muscle growth on your frame. What results is a stronger, more athletic looking physique.
As long as you’re eating enough protein while in a calorie deficit phase, you’ll maintain lean muscle on your frame while giving your body gentle direction to use body fat to supply energy. What results is a leaner looking physique.
Look, those items might catch your attention, but protein is used for all kinds of functions in the body – just keep reading to find out some of them.
1. IMPORTANT FUNCTIONS OF PROTEIN FOR ACTIVE WOMEN
Supports lean muscle gain when calories are higher, muscle maintenance when calories are lower.
Provides structure for lean muscle, bone, skin, gut lining and other connective tissues.
Needed for the production of enzymes to adequately digest and absorb food.
Digests slowly and leads to a sense of fullness and satisfaction after meals.
Supports proper immune function and helps maintain fluid balance in the body.
Some act as hormones to deliver messages throughout the body.
2. PROTEIN BLUNTS THE BLOOD SUGAR RESPONSE AFTER MEALS
Eating carbohydrates alone without a balance of protein leads to a sharp rise and fall in blood sugar – much like a roller coaster. This chaotic ride leads to swings in energy, cravings, appetite and athletic performance.
Alternatively, blood sugar could look like rolling hills, with subtle rising and falling. Adding protein to each meal and snack slows down digestion leading to balanced, steady energy levels, fewer cravings and better athletic performance.
As you can see, we use protein to make enzymes and cofactors, to transport important nutrients in the blood throughout the body, serve as the building blocks for hair, nails, skin, bones, joints and ligaments, and so much more!
Protein is also a satiating macronutrient – meaning you feel more full when you eat meals with protein in them. So, if you find yourself craving, reaching for a snack after you’ve JUST finished eating a meal, lack of protein might be the reason!
And even though protein has SO many crucial jobs in the body, most people, especially active women, are undereating their needs. In fact, most times I complete a Personalized Macro Calculation, I am recommending someone “eat up!” – especially on protein – to achieve their goals.
I know protein targets can be tough to hit. In a few other blog posts, I’ll be sure to share some details about how much you actually need, how to hit various targets, and protein-rich food ideas for meals and snacks that you can start incorporating right away!