Don’t Skimp On Protein

 Don’t Skimp On Protein

By Jennifer Kelleher

Today, I bring to light a topic that comes up often with my nutritional health coaching clients: the importance of eating enough protein. Many of my clients come to me with a history of restrictive or yo-yo dieting. To them, losing weight and achieving positive health goals has always been centered around what they should avoid. However, focusing on what you cannot have only leads to wanting it more, which makes their experience of trying to get healthy and well torturous and unsustainable.

As an ex-restrictive eater, I can totally understand this perspective, and sitting where I am now, I also know that there are other, much more enjoyable and effortless ways to get and stay healthy and fit. The first thing I do when I meet with a client like the one described above, is to reframe their way of thinking: it’s not about what you have to lose, but rather what you have to gain. In other words, we focus on what we can add into our diet and lifestyle, and over time we observe how these new additions naturally and easily crowd out anything that is not in alignment with us feeling and looking healthy and well.

This brings me to protein. Most people are not getting nearly enough protein in their diet. Why does this matter? Not getting enough protein leads to a laundry list of imbalances in the body that prevent you from reaching your wellness goal. First, there are 20 types of amino acids that the human body needs, and these amino acids are found in high quality sources of protein. The Protein Leverage Hypothesis says that we will continue to feed until we meet our amino acid needs. Even if you are eating a whole foods diet, if it is too low in protein you will continue to feel the urge to eat until you meet those amino acid requirements. Next, protein helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, which, as a result, abolishes cravings and balances mood and energy. Without sufficient protein, your experience of life is at the mercy of increased stress hormones that occur as a result of blood sugar spikes and crashes. Also, protein turnover is happening throughout your physical system all the time. Without enough protein, it becomes a lot more difficult for the body to rebuild and repair itself. Lastly, without sufficient protein, you will probably end up with a body composition that you are unhappy with. Protein paired with exercise builds muscle. Studies are showing that the loss of skeletal muscle mass has greater negative implications on outcomes of health and mortality than the gain of body fat. In other words, it’s the loss of skeletal muscle over time that causes health issues, rather than the gain of body fat.

When I coach people, we focus on thinking about things positively– moving toward something, as opposed to fighting against something. Increasing protein intake and noticing how it positively affects your health is one example of this. My programs include personalized sessions and resources so that you have all of the tools and support to attain and sustain your health goals. If you’re interested in learning more, call or text me at 917-318-1168.

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