How Different Sources of Protein Impact Your Body

If you’re considering a new fitness regime, whether you want to lose weight or gain muscle, you might be considering protein supplements. However, it’s better for your wellbeing to choose food choices of protein as your primary source of the nutrient. That said, not all food sources of protein are created equal; you need to choose better quality protein foods so that you can maximize the fat burning and muscle-building processes. Without doing so, you are robbing your body of the many benefits protein has to offer. All of the hard exercise you do is going to waste if you aren’t consuming an optimal amount of protein. Your body has to work hard to digest protein, and the energy cost of digesting, absorbing, and metabolising this nutrient leads to great fat loss. So which food sources of protein are the best, and why? Let’s take a look at your new, smarter way of eating protein:


The reason why it’s better to eat animal sources of protein is because they have a high content of a branched-chain amino acid known as leucine. Leucine is actually a strong indicator of the quality of the protein you’re consuming because it helps to raise muscle anabolism. Why is this important? When your muscle anabolism is raised, your body is put in a better position to induce the growth of your muscle tissues. The more muscle tissue your body has, the higher your metabolic rate is going to be. This helps you to lose fat way after you’ve finished working out.


According to study by Acheson et al., different protein sources can be used to modulate your metabolism and, as a result, your energy balance. For the study, “Protein choices targeting thermogenesis and metabolism,” the researchers looked at how four isocaloric (same calorie) meals eaten at different times had an impact on 23 sedentary, lean, healthy men and women. The investigators took data before meals, and 5.5 hours after consumption. While three of the meals contained 50% protein (whey, casein, or soy), 40% carbohydrate, and 10% fat, the fourth meal consisted of 95.5% carbohydrates.


The results of the study revealed that the thermic effect (or energy cost) was greater after the whey than after the casein and soy meals. However, the thermic effect was still much greater after the whey, casein, and soy meals (all three proteins) than after the high carbohydrate meal, meaning that any of these proteins can have a decent thermic effect. The study results also showed that total fat oxidation tended to be greater after the whey meal than after the soy meal, and was greater after the whey and soy meals than after the high carbohydrate meal. This was because the high leucine content in the whey protein meal activated MPS in all participants and was more energy costly, leading to greater fat loss.


So which protein foods should you eat? The protein foods you should be aiming for are those that are packed with leucine. This means eating animal products such as beef, chicken and pork, as well as eggs, fish, whey, casein, and milk. These foods should help you get over the leucine threshold and activate MPS, depending on the amount you’re consuming. However, in order to elicit a greater thermic response, your best bet is whey as opposed to either casein or soy. That said, don’t make the mistake of thinking soy and casein are pointless; if your body can’t tolerate whey for whatever reason, the research shows that soy and casein still have a decent thermic effect.

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