A steady supply of protein keeps a variety of bodily functions going. Proteins are not like carbohydrates, which are stored in the body as fat, or other nutrients that the body produces from several food sources. The only place that proteins are stored is in muscle tissue and in almost every cell in your body. If your protein levels are too low, the body will rob these essential amino acids from the very muscles and tissues that you are trying to strengthen.
In addition to muscle loss, other symptoms of too little protein in your diet include fatigue and a general feeling of lethargy. This weakened state may compromise both your mental and physical abilities and your overall performance will suffer. A regular supply of protein, with each meal, helps to supply the amino acid building blocks to support the growth of muscle and connective tissue. These are essential elements to sustaining the motor functions of the body.
Beyond their contribution to your physical strength, proteins help to regulate hormones and blood sugar. The result is increased mental focus and a greater ability to recover from stresses. One of those stresses is a loss of fluids due to exercise activity. If you consume sufficient fluids, proteins help to assure that the fluids reach all of the necessary parts of the body to keep functioning. Proteins also help to assure that cells do not retain too much fluid. Maintaining fluid levels supports nerve function which helps regulate the body and manage things like muscle contraction.
Because your body uses up the protein that you consume, you need to keep the supply constant. This means that it doesn’t help to load up on protein at breakfast and then avoid it for the rest of the day. Too much protein in one sitting is more than your body can absorb and it will pass through. Then when mid-afternoon comes you will begin to feel the fatigue as your body begins to rob your muscles of amino acids.
If you reach that point, the best solution is to eat a handful of raw almonds or walnuts, or a slice of cheese. Stay away from that candy bar in the vending machine. All that sugar on top of fatigue will cause an insulin rush and worsen your fatigue. Then the insulin will make you feel hungry and you will be challenged to maintain your healthy diet at dinnertime. Similarly, if you work out during the day; make sure you eat some protein shortly after the session is complete. This will help to restore proteins to the muscles, keep the hormones in balance and help to re-hydrate the body as you drink water.
Comprehensive sources of proteins are found in many animal foods including fish, beef, lamb, chicken and eggs. A comprehensive protein source is one that includes many of the essential amino acids needed by the body. In addition, dairy products like yogurt, cheese and whey protein are good sources of comprehensive proteins. Yogurt and some cheeses have the added benefit of supplying much need beneficial bacteria to aid in digestion and support the immune system. If your preference is for vegetable-based proteins, good sources are beans and a variety of nuts and seeds. These foods also add fiber to your system and may reduce the absorption of proteins, so make a habit of adding sunflower seeds, almonds and other protein snacks to your regular diet.