What does protein do for our bodies?

What does protein do for our bodies? We take a look and also show you 4 amazingly simple energy packed protein ball recipes.

It is commonly known that fats and carbohydrates provide our body with energy that allows us to function effectively on a day to day basis, but proteins role in the human body is often less discussed.

This is a shame, because protein is arguably the most important one, out of the three key Macronutrients found in food (Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates).

The protein that we consume is made up of small compounds known as amino acids.

 

Amino Acids

Amino Acids are often considered the building blocks of the body, because they are the molecules used in the repair and growth of damaged human tissue.

They are used to produce important hormones and enzymes, while also playing important roles in a host of other processes.

Keeping this in mind, it is safe to say that without protein we would be in a bit of trouble.

It is also important to note that Protein molecules are comprised of long chains of amino acids that are ‘bound’ together.

The length and shape of this chain varies greatly between protein types (and the sources they come from), and determines the speed at which they are broken down into amino acids and absorbed through the digestive system.

 

20 types of different Amino Acids

There are 20 different types of amino acids found throughout the body, of which 11 can actually be produced within the body.

The remaining nine are known as essential amino acids and are considered essential because they cannot be made by the body – and subsequently must be obtained through diet.

As a result, the physical consumption of protein is integral to maintaining the health of the body at a cellular level, and building and repairing muscle and connective tissue.

 

Proteins role in exercise

Now, as mentioned previously, when it comes to exercise specifically, carbohydrates and fats are where we find all our energy – but that doesn’t mean that protein doesn’t have an important role to play.

So what does protein do for us during exercise?

When we exercise at a moderate intensity we actually stress and damage the body at both a tissue and cellular level.

While this may not sound like a good thing, it is actually essential to adapting and improving – assuming we have adequate protein available.

 

exercise from cycling

During exercise we stress the cardiovascular and muscular system to a point where it is currently unable to cope with the demands placed on the body.

With weight training specifically, this results in increased muscle damage, while with aerobic based training it results in an increase in metabolic damage (caused by increased lactate production).

 

What does this stress do?

This stress tells the body to adapt to a point where it can handle this increased load, and subsequently it uses amino acids to repair and build new muscle tissue, and create new cells capable of handling increased lactate production.

This essentially improves our capacity to handle exercise at a given intensity.

But (there is always a but), it is important to note that this only occurs if we have enough amino acids available to facilitate this process. If we do not, the body will not recover quickly enough to adapt to this stress, essentially leaving us in the same place as where we started.

This means we need to eat enough protein to allow the body to recover and adapt from the stress of exercise.

 

Protein and Body Composition

Now, while we know that maintaining an adequate protein intake is essential to maximize the effects of exercise (by facilitating the recovery processes associated), it is also important to touch on the question of what does protein do for body composition?

Maintaining a relatively high protein intake is known to be an excellent way to improve muscle mass (and increasing the growth and repair of muscle tissue) and aid recovery.

Muscle mass

muscle mass

Interestingly, muscle mass is what is known as active tissue – meaning that it requires energy to maintain its basic physiological processes.

Keeping this in mind, by eating a decent amount of protein we can increase our lean muscle tissue and therefore increase the amount of energy we burn at rest – increasing our capacity to lose fat over time significantly.

 

Energy we burn

In combination with its capacity to improve muscle mass, protein also has the highest thermic effect food of the three key macronutrients (Thermic effect of food describes the amount of energy required to break down and digest what we eat).

As a result, by simply eating more protein we can increase the amount of energy we burn digesting our food – which can further improve fat loss capacity

And finally, Protein is also extremely satisfying at a physiological level.

Protein has the highest satiety rating the macronutrients, and as a result actually makes us feel fuller for longer.

This is likely to reduce overeating throughout the day, causing a reduction in daily energy intake.

 

How much protein should we eat?

eggs for protein

So, now we have a good idea as to why maintaining a decent protein intake is so important, it’s time to establish how much we actually need on a daily basis.

Now, first thing that we should mention is that the authorities on health recommend a daily intake 56 grams of protein per day to maintain health. This amount does vary very slightly in response to your age, gender, activity levels, and weight.

But it is also incredibly important to state that even though this information does come from a governing body, this is what most health and fitness professionals would consider an extremely low protein intake.

 

Is this enough protein?

I would argue that it is not anywhere near sufficient to promote muscle growth, adapt to exercise, or promote changes in body composition.

Especially when we consider that the body is in a constant state of rebuilding. Throughout the day we are rebuilding and creating new tissue, building new hormones and enzymes, and building new cells.

With this in mind, it is important we consume enough protein to sustain these processes comfortably.

Additionally, assuming we undertake regular exercise at a moderate intensity, we are going to need more protein to repair and grow tissue that is damaged during exercise.

So taking all of this into consideration, a recommended protein intake of 1 gram per pound of bodyweight should be more than adequate to meet those requirements essential to maintaining metabolic processes, and building new tissue.

 

Protein Packed Energy Balls

homemade protein balls

While we understand that 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight may sound like a lot, it shouldn’t be that difficult to consume.

But if you are having some difficulty achieving an adequate protein intake, we have a solution…..

Protein packed energy balls.

 

4 simple protein ball recipes

If you would prefer to make these at home why not try the following recipes.

They outline some great high protein snacks that also taste fantastic!

 

1. No Bake Oatmeal Protein Energy Balls

Ingredients:

  • –          1 ½ cup of rolled oats
  • –          2 scoops of vanilla protein powder
  • –          ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • –          ½ cup of peanut butter
  • –          2 tablespoons of honey
  • –          2-4 tablespoons of almond milk

 

Directions:

  1. This recipe is as delicious as it is simple.
  2. First step is to add all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  3. Then proceed to add the honey and peanut butter– stir to combine.
  4. From here we simple add our milk slowly until we get a nice sticky consistency.
  5. Finally roll into balls and store in the fridge – you will thank me later!

 

2. High Protein Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls

Ingredients:

  • –          ½ cup of peanut butter
  • –          ½ cup of chocolate protein powder
  • –          1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • –          1 tablespoon of honey
  • –          10 dates
  • –          1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

 

Directions:

  1. Start these off by adding all of the ingredients into a blender blitzing until they are completely combined.
  2. Then proceed to add small amounts of water to the mixture (while stirring) until it is a nice and sticky consistency.
  3. Roll into balls and store in the freezer!

 

3. Almond and Cranberry Energy Balls

Ingredients:

  • –          1 cup of rolled oats
  • –          1/3 cup of almonds
  • –          1/3 cup of shredded coconut
  • –          1 tablespoon of flaxseed
  • –          1 tablespoon of honey
  • –          ½ cup of almond butter
  • –          1/3 cup of chopped cranberries

 

Directions:

  1. Start by baking the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes
  2. Then place in the fridge until cool.
  3. Then add butter, add the baked mix, flaxseed, honey, and cranberries into a large bowl and mix thoroughly – producing a thick and sticky mixture.
  4. Roll into balls and store in the refrigerator.

 

4. Easy Choc-Almond Protein Balls

Ingredients:

  • –          1 cup of raw almonds
  • –          1 cup of raisins
  • –          2 scoops of chocolate protein powder
  • –          1 cup of shredded coconut
  • –          ¼ teaspoon of salt

 

Directions:

  1. Start by blitzing the almonds in a food processor until a creamy butter is formed – then add raisins and mix until everything is nice and smooth.
  2. Add in the salt and protein powder and mix until everything is thoroughly combined.
  3. Proceed to roll into balls and cover in coconut.
  4. Either enjoy immediately (and you will enjoy them) or store in the fridge!

 

To round it up

Considering the importance of protein, relative to optimizing health and recovery processes, it becomes apparent that ensuring that we consume adequate protein is absolutely essential.

With this in mind, we should strive to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight each day.

While this may sound like a large amount, it is easily obtainable if we consume high protein snacks throughout the day.

The best of these are the high protein energy balls outlined in this article – which are both incredibly easy to make and taste absolutely delicious too!

 

 

Lets Us Know…

We’d love to hear if you tried any of the above protein ball recipes and loved them!

And please do share any other fantastic recipes you know of that can benefit others in the comments below.

 

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7 Benefits of Working Out Consistently

You’re probably aware of the many health benefits of diet and exercise, but hopefully you are also aware that exercising just three times over the course of a year is not going to be sufficient to attain your goals. You need to be consistent! In this article we are going to look at seven health benefits of working out regularly.

We will try to avoid the obvious ones, such as “if you work out consistently you will build muscles” or “if you work out regularly you will increase strength”.

Instead we will take a look at benefits that are focused on areas outside of strength, fat loss, and muscle gain.

Saying that though, just in case you’re unsure of the obvious benefits we will take a quick look at those first….

 

Obvious Benefits of Exercising Regularly

physical exercise

One of the main health benefits of working out regularly is of course increased fitness, your cardiovascular system would be improved significantly whether you jog around the park, or deadlift 200kg.

Provided that your diet is in order you could also expect to lose body fat and overall weight as well as help with cholesterol levels. You should also see an increase to your muscular strength and endurance as well as some muscle hypertrophy.

So that is the obvious benefits, now let’s take a look at the seven less obvious benefits to working out consistently….

 

Less Obvious Health Benefits of Working Out Regularly

Benefit #1. Increased Testosterone

Testosterone is the male sex hormone, though it is also present in smaller amounts in women. It has many benefits such as increased muscle gain, improved mood, reduced body fat, and increased libido.

Exercise can cause a short-term increase in testosterone. Research found that performing free weight exercises led to large increases in serum testosterone.

This is great for the short-term, but what people really want is long-term increases in testosterone. One of the health benefits of working out regularly is you should see a more long-term increase.

Not only will you be getting frequent spikes in testosterone thanks to the free weight resistance exercises, but you will also be getting reduced aromatase (an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen).

Almost every benefit from exercise that men get is down to increased testosterone and exercise increases testosterone production. Which is a great circular relationship.

Remember that women can also benefit from increased testosterone, but they should also see benefits from increased estrogen.

 

Benefit #2. Improved Sleep Quality

The relationship between exercise and sleep quality is a complicated one. Highly intensive exercise can produce cortisol which is a hormone that is released during stressful times.

In high levels, cortisol can negatively affect sleep quality and duration. This then further increases cortisol which creates a vicious cycle. This is why bad sleep quality is one of the signs of over-training.

But if you are training consistently you should not be in danger of over-exerting yourself. Instead you should be receiving all of the benefits of exercise we mentioned above.

 

All benefits are linked

Many of these benefits (weight loss, improved mood, increased testosterone) have been shown to improve sleep quality. A study found that aerobic exercise improved sleep quality in older adults with insomnia.

Improved sleep can also help increase testosterone, regulate appetite (very useful for people who are dieting), and improve mood, libido, and cognitive function. It can also reduce stress which will help lower cortisol.

Hopefully you are beginning to see the interconnected relationships that all of these benefits have 😉

 

Benefit #3. Increased Independence

independence

Whereas the last two looked at scientific reactions to long-term exercise, this benefit is a lot more of a physical one. As people age they generally get stronger and frailer, women go through menopause, and men go through their own equivalent.

Muscle mass lowers, bone density drops, and suddenly you are 70 years old and need help to do the gardening, or you fall over and break a hip.

Some of you reading this may be laughing, but it is a genuine concern that WILL affect you in the future.

 

Keeping your independence as you age

Exercising consistently can help you to keep your independence as you age. It may also help some of you to gain independence right now. If you are constantly needing people to help you lift things, then training in the gym can help you manage for yourself.

So much of exercise is focused on short-term goals, but reaching 90 years old in good physical and mental health should be the ultimate aim for everyone!

 

Benefit #4. Establishing a Routine

Being consistent with your training can lead to amazing results, but to be consistent you need to be following a routine. Training at the same time each day, on the same day each week.

This makes it a lot easier to turn up to the gym, as you factor gym time into your daily plans.

But your body will also adapt to your training time, it will help you to peak physically at this time. Anyone who usually trains at 6pm but decides to try a 6am session will know what I am are talking about.

Your routine will allow you to get the best workout results possible, your recovery and sleep patterns will adapt to this.

 

Benefit #5. Improved Social Life

improve your social life

If you are already sociable then going to the gym on Friday nights won’t help that, but many millions of people out there are less sociable than ever.

Men tend to lose friends as they age until their social circle is tiny.

Training in a gym can help to change that, particularly if you are consistent and follow a set routine. You will see the same people day in, day out, and eventually you might find you now have a whole new social circle.

How close you allow these people into your life is up to you (and them too obviously), it can range from having someone to nod at every day, to someone to train with, to someone to go for a beer with on the weekend.

This goes double for elderly men and women. Get yourself into that gym and make some awesome new friends!

 

Benefit #6. Improved Fertility

If you are struggling to conceive then one of the best ways to manage it is to lose weight, exercising consistently can help with that.

Consistent exercise can also lower stress, increase testosterone and improve sleep – all factors that can affect fertility.

 

Benefit #7. Lowered Injury Risk

flexibility

Have you ever had a friend who decided to join into a 3 on 3 basketball game, fall over and damage their cruciate ligament? The reason behind this? Partly bad luck, but partly their lack of fitness.

Exercising consistently can strengthen muscles, but also ligaments, joints, and bones. People who exercise will also have better flexibility, better reactions, and better hand eye coordination.

This all adds up to less risk of injury in the future.

 

Final Thoughts

When people first start training they are usually concerned with how to get amazing results in the fastest way possible.

They follow training programs that guarantee abs in just 12 weeks, or follow diets that will get them “beach ready in 30 days”.

But there are no real tricks to fat loss, it’s all about consistency. It’s about turning up 4-5 times per week (or more) getting your session in, eating well (but within a calorie deficit), and making sure that you are sleeping properly.

That’s all there is to it.

 

Consistency is the key

Every benefit of working out that you can imagine all come down to being consistent. You don’t need to do anything fancy.

Walk 10,000 steps per day, go to the gym, hit your calorie and macro targets, go to bed at the right time. Wake up and repeat.

This may not sound fun or sexy, but it should do. Because it means that you don’t have to turn your life upside down every time you want to lose weight.

 

Follow a simple plan

You are following a simple plan that is easy to do, being consistent means that you can reward yourself more without sabotaging your results and you’ll really see the health benefits of working out regularly.

Going for 10 beers and a pizza with your friends is never going to aid weight loss, but the guy who exercises 5 times per week is going to survive it better than the guy who only trains every two months.

Life is there to be enjoyed, and being consistent with your training and diet allows you more opportunities to have fun, both now and in the future.

 

Let Us Know…

What’s your experience? Have you seen the great health benefits of working out regularly?

What’s your routine like?

Why not help others learn from your experience, please let us all know in the comments below….

 

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Ways to increase metabolism naturally

We’re sure you’ve already heard the word metabolism but it is not what you think it is. Yes, metabolism does play a role in keeping your bragging friend in tip top shape, but that’s not the entire story. So I thought i’d write about what your metabolism actually is and ways to increase metabolism naturally.

 

How does your Metabolism work?

Regulated by your thyroid gland, your metabolism is constantly running, even when you’re asleep.

Metabolism can be compared to an engine that keeps you going and to keep it going, you need to feed it with nutrients.

 

The thyroid gland

Since your thyroid gland controls your metabolism, it is critical that you keep the health of your thyroid gland in check.

When the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone (a condition called hypothyroidism), your metabolism can get severely compromised.

At least 3.7% of American adults are known to suffer from an underactive thyroid. Fortunately, it can be improved with the right diet and hormone replacement therapy.

 

Metabolism and metabolic rate

metabolic rate

The word metabolism is commonly used interchangeably with metabolic rate, hence, the skinny friend reference.

Metabolic rate is the amount of calories you burn and metabolism is a combination of two processes, anabolism and catabolism.

Anabolism involves the synthesis of compounds to be used by your cells and catabolism is the breakdown of molecules for energy.

The higher your metabolic rate, the more calories and fat you will burn and the easier it becomes to keep unnecessary pounds off.

 

Metabolism rate – factors

Some people have faster metabolism than others, this is on account of several factors such as one’s lifestyle, genetics, age, gender and weight.

physique

Sure, you can’t do much about genetics and age, but certain lifestyle changes are a surefire way to rev your metabolism, for better health and a better physique.

Additionally, the biochemical reactions associated with metabolism are closely intertwined with your nutrition.

Therefore, proper nutrition is essential for a healthy metabolism.

We’ll get into how you can make your metabolism work to your advantage shortly. Let’s understand how it works first.

 

Basal Metabolic Rate

Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR is a measure of the minimum energy it takes for your body to burn a maximum amount of calories.

Your BMR is 40 to 70% of the energy needed by your body to function at its current rate.

Just like your metabolism, your BMR is also influenced by weight, your lifestyle and your age. It is affected by your activity levels as well.

Therefore, if a person leads a sedentary lifestyle or states that they have a “slow metabolism”, what they really mean is that their BMR is low.

 

Metabolism hacks you need to know

As mentioned earlier, there are several ways through which you can hack into your metabolism and make it work the way you want it to.

If you’re looking to improve your health and fitness, chances are you’ll want it to be faster.

The following is a no B.S. list of natural techniques that you can apply in your daily life to boost your metabolic rate and get the results you want.

 

1. Train intensely

planks

If you’re looking for a way to amp your metabolic rate fast, skip the boring steady-state workouts and try high intensity interval training or HIIT.

HIIT involves quick and intense bursts of activity, which you can perform at home, outside or at the gym.

Since you’re working out way more strenuously than you usually do within a period of time, chances are you’ll increase your metabolic rate and burn more fat, even after your workout.

 

2. Strength train

weight training

Building muscle and achieving a leaner body is a great way of increasing your overall metabolic rate (including BMR). Your muscles are far more active than your fat.

With more muscle, you will be burning more calories every day, even during rest.

Weight loss can result in metabolic decline. Fortunately, lifting weights can help you retain muscle mass and sustain your metabolic levels.

One study with 48 overweight female participants showed that even with a 800 calorie diet, the women who did resistance training were able to maintain their strength and metabolism, while losing significant fat weight.

The women who didn’t exercise at all or performed aerobic exercises, only lost fat and muscle weight and experienced a drop in their metabolic rate.

 

3. Have plenty of protein

grilled chicken protein

As we mentioned earlier in this article, food has a huge role to play when it comes to your metabolism.

Following a meal, your metabolism is often up for a few hours. This is a phenomenon called the thermic effect of food or TEF for short.

TEF is the result of the additional calories the body needs to digest and absorb the nutrients from your meal.

 

What is Protein

Protein is a slow-digesting nutrient that has the largest effect on your TEF. Having a protein-rich meal can increase your metabolic rate by 15 to 30%. Carbs cause a 5 to 10% increase and fats, a sad 0 to 3%.

As a bonus, eating more protein also helps you feel full and satiated, stopping you from overeating. It also prevents you from losing muscle, which commonly occurs from dieting.

 

4. Add Spice

On the subject of food, did you know that you can increase your metabolism by adding the right spices? This simple hack can be done to a wide range of meals and can increase your TEF by a few hours.

This is due to a component called capsaicin, which releases heat once ingested. If you’ve ever wondered why you sweat after particularly spicy food, capsaicin is often why – but at least it’s good for you!

It can be found in numerous spices, but chili and ginger both have high levels. The latter also contains gingerol, which does many of the same things, while also providing an anti-inflammatory benefit.

Try adding a little chili to your meals or even adding ginger to your tea. This will keep your metabolism up for a longer period after you’ve eaten.

 

5. Reduce being sedentary, it kills your metabolism.

Leading a sedentary lifestyle is a definite way of decreasing the amount of fat you burn daily.

Sadly, most jobs require people to be sedentary at work, which can wreak havoc to your metabolic rate and overall health.

sitting down

 

While working out or playing a sport can improve your metabolic rate drastically, simply standing more often, walking more or taking the stairs can help increase it too.

One study showed that you are burning 16% fewer calories when you’re sitting compared to standing. Sitting down too much can harm your overall health.

Using a standing desk and performing certain tasks while standing or walking, such as answering the phone, are great ways to reduce the amount of time you’re sitting every day.

 

6. Get more sleep

Sleep is critical for great health, which includes a healthy metabolism.

Lacking sleep on a long-term basis can severely increase your risk of diabetes, depression and heart disease.

Furthermore, a plethora of studies show that poor sleep may negatively affect your metabolic rate and increase your chances of gaining weight.

 

Is a better metabolism only gifted to people who are “born with it”?

Having a higher metabolic rate means you can burn more fat while exercising and during rest, while sustaining your gains.

Is a better metabolism only gifted to people who are “born with it”? The answer is no.

While some people are naturally able to burn more calories than others, you can easily increase metabolism naturally by making some lifestyle changes such as (more) exercise, changing your workout routine, eating plenty of protein and getting some good sleep.

 

Let us know

We’d love to hear in the comments below any tips you have on how you can increase metabolism naturally…..

 

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