Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Protein: 4 Science-Backed Reasons Why Protein Is Amazing
While protein is often recognized for its muscle-building, hunger satiating qualities, there are many other reasons to love this miracle macronutrient.
Here are some lesser known facts about protein you might not know about:
1. It Protects Against Fatty Liver Disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is characterized by a build-up of fat in the liver. It's often associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and lipid disorders. If left untreated, fatty liver can lead to cirrhosis with life-threatening consequences.
A recent study investigated how the protein content of food influences the amount of liver fat in obese people with a non-alcoholic fatty liver. 19 participants were split between a high protein, and low protein diet for three weeks.
The study found that a calorie-reduced, high-protein diet decreased liver fat by 40%, whereas the low-protein diet had no observable effects.
2. It Burns Calories While You Eat It
Compared to carbs and fat, protein greatly over-indexes on what's called the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF). TEF is defined as the increase in metabolic rate after ingestion of a meal. In other words - calories burned while you digest.
Studies have shown that as many as 25% of the calories ingested from protein are burned through TEF. It's like a calorie sale, and protein is 25% off!
3. It Reduces Your Appetite
While the hormone ghrelin is well recognized for its ability to control our hunger levels, it turns out there’s a lesser known, equally important hormone also responsible for our appetite - peptide-YY (PYY). The recently discovered PYY is secreted in small amounts from the small intestine, signalling your body that you’re full.
So just how effective is PYY? In a study when subjects were given an injection of the hormone, it reduced food intake by 33% over a 24 hour period without any further intervention.
More recently, research has shown that enhanced-protein meals stimulate greater release of PYY than either high-fat or high-carbohydrate meals and result in a greater reduction of hunger.
In short, more protein = more PYY = less food = less calories = less body fat.
4. It lowers your risk of death
If nothing else, if you could eat something that made you live longer, most people would jump at the opportunity.
That something happens to be protein.
In a meta-analysis of 715,000 people across 32 studies, it was determined that those with a high intake of protein in their diet had a statistically smaller chance of dying from "all cause mortality" (AKA death from any cause).
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