There’s a phrase that goes “You are what you eat.” When it comes to proteins, this is absolutely true. Next to water, it is the most present element in the human body. Besides the obvious presence in muscles and the rebuilding of tissue, hair, nails, enzymes and hormones are all made of protein. Plus, different from fats and carbohydrates, the body doesn’t store proteins so it needs intake daily as there is nothing for it to draw on when needed. This week’s Fit Latina tips explore protein’s role in wellness and a healthy diet.
Myth #1 – If you are cutting out carbs, you can make up for it by loading up on proteins
Reality: While it’s true that in the short term, a person will experience weight-loss in this type of diet, it can’t be utilized in a healthy manner over time. The reason for this is that the body goes from burning the carbs a person would otherwise ingest to burning its own fat. Overtime, once there isn’t excess fat to burn, the body will turn to eating its own muscles, leading to loss of muscle mass. The more muscle a body has, the faster the metabolism. If a body is forced to use itself for fuel, the metabolism speed will rapidly decrease.
Myth #2 – Protein causes weight gain
Reality: Ingesting protein won’t lead to weight gain unless you are raising your overall calorie intake. In fact, protein could help do just the opposite. Your body burns more calories digesting proteins than it does with both carbs and fats. Protein also satiates you longer than either, meaning it keeps you fuller for longer. Reminder – though your body metabolizes foods in different ways and some food groups are more calorie-dense than others, simply eating a food group won’t automatically affect your waist line.
Myth #3 – Vegetarian, Vegan and diets that minimize meat intake are unhealthy
Reality: There’s no denying that the heaviest punches of protein come from animal products, the meat in particular. That being said, vegetarian diets are ideal when it comes to their low level of saturated fats. There are plenty of other ways for people to get protein. The traditional Latin diet, with protein heavy hitters like beans, legumes and rice as staples, makes a healthy meat-free lifestyle relatively easy. Many people don’t realize that whole grains are also great sources of proteins. Make sure rice and breads are whole grains in order to ensure that you are being as nutritious as possible. The key with these types of diets is to make sure that there is variety to ensure that all nutrient needs are met. The more elements that are cut from a diet, the more aware one has to be to make sure that all nutrient needs are met.
Whether you are looking to explore a new diet regimen, be it vegetarian or low-carb, or you are simply looking to explore the easiest ways to make your days more nutritious, it is absolutely essential to fit protein into your day. With plenty of foods that are chocked full of protein, there is a way to stick healthy regardless of your lifestyle.