Nutrition: Why Protein Matters, by Dr. John Berardi

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I highly suggest reading the full article, found here:

If you don’t have time (or want to get your interest peaked), here’s a great synopsis:

Why Protein Matters, by Dr. John Berardi

Muscle protein synthesis isn’t the only reason to eat more protein.  There’s satiety, the thermogenic effects, the impact on the immune system, and more (see below).

Plus, there are probably a few benefits science can’t measure yet.  I say the last part because there’s so much experiential evidence suggesting that when you’re training hard and you up your protein, you do better.  So maybe we just haven’t looked in the right places to notice the real benefits.

…some of the benefits of eating more protein.  Here’s the list:

Increased Thermic Effect of Feeding — While all macronutrients require metabolic processing for digestion, absorption, and storage or oxidation, the thermic effect of protein is roughly double that of carbohydrates and fat. Therefore, eating protein is actually thermogenic and can lead to a higher metabolic rate. This means greater fat loss when dieting and less fat gain during overfeeding/muscle building.

Increased Glucagon — Protein consumption increases plasma concentrations of the hormone glucagon. Glucagon is responsible for antagonizing the effects of insulin in adipose tissue, leading to greater fat mobilization. In addition, glucagon also decreases the amounts and activities of the enzymes responsible for making and storing fat in adipose and liver cells. Again, this leads to greater fat loss during dieting and less fat gain during overfeeding.

Reduction in Cardiovascular Risk — Several studies have shown that increasing the percentage of protein in the diet (from 11% to 23%) while decreasing the percentage of carbohydrate (from 63% to 48%) lowers LDL cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations with concomitant increases in HDL cholesterol concentrations.

Improved Weight-Loss Profile —Research by Layman and colleagues has demonstrated that reducing the carbohydrate ratio from 3.5 – 1 to 1.4 – 1 increases body fat loss, spares muscle mass, reduces triglyceride concentrations, improves satiety, and improves blood glucose management (Layman et al 2003 — If you’re at all interested in protein intake, you’ve gotta go read the January and February issues of the Journal of Nutrition. Layman has three interesting articles in the two journals).

Increased Provision of Auxiliary Nutrients — Although the benefits mentioned above have related specifically to protein and amino acids, it’s important to recognize that we don’t just eat protein and amino acids — we eat food. Therefore, high protein diets often provide auxiliary nutrients that could enhance performance and/or muscle growth. These nutrients include creatine, branched chain amino acids, conjugated linoleic acids, and/or additional nutrients that are important but remain to be discovered.  And don’t forget the vitamins and minerals we get from protein rich foods. (And lest anyone think I’m a shill for the protein powder industry, this last point clearly illustrates the need to get most of your protein from food, rather than supplements.)

To this end, my advice is the same as I’ve outlined in the Precision Nutrition System.

Women – 1 serving of lean, complete protein (20-30g) with each meal, every 3 hours or so

Men – 2 servings of lean, complete protein (40-60g) with each meal, every 3 hours or so

This pattern of intake will make sure you’re getting enough protein to reap all the benefits that this macronutrient has to offer.  Not just the protein synthetic benefits.

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-Written by Dr. John Berardi,