Does Eating More Protein Leave You with More Energy?
The main source of energy in humans comes from carbohydrates. So how does protein contribute to having more energy?
It is actually four-fold.
Keeps you feeling fuller longer
The problem with a carbohydrate-heavy diet alone is the lack of staying power. While you will feel full right after eating, the satiety soon wears off and you are left feeling hungry again with less energy.
But by consuming a diet with enough protein, satiety is prolonged without the feeling being hungry.
Provides energy longer
By eating a diet combined of complex carbohydrates and protein, the rate at which the carbohydrates are broken down is slowed, thus making those calories last longer than if the carbohydrates were eaten void of protein.
Improves quality of sleep
In overweight and obese individuals, a recently published study found when participants consumed a diet with a greater proportion of calories coming from protein, their quality of sleep improved.
Of course, a better quality of sleep leaves one more refreshed and full of energy in the morning rather than being sleep-deprived.
As protein breaks down, it produces enzymes in the body that help speed up your metabolism.
An increase in metabolism, creates a feeling of more energy. And that increase will continue longer.
In the case of exercising, the increase in metabolism is called the afterburn and can last for hours afterward – one of the reasons many people feel like they have more energy after exercising.
How much protein is needed?
The USDA recommends men eat 56 grams of protein per day; 46 for women. On average this breaks down to about 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
Other health sources recommend eating more – up to 1 gram per body weight. And if you use the macronutrient ratio that many use, it says 30% of your daily caloric intake should be protein, 50% carbs and 20% fat.
Because the amount you need is dependent on so many variables, such as age, weight, activity level and gender, you may have to experiment within these guidelines to see what amount works best for you.
And it isn’t only a question of how much is needed, but also the quality of the protein as not all is created equally.
Protein coming from animal sources are generally known as complete protein as they contain all nine of the essential amino acids our body can’t make.
Protein from many of the plant sources are incomplete, but some can be made complete by combining two or more foods: beans and rice are one example where each alone is incomplete when eaten together they become complete.
Beef, fatty fish and chicken are three meats high in protein.
On the plant side, lentils, black beans are high with 18 grams and 15 grams per cup, respectively.
If looking for a good post-workout snack, apple slices with peanut butter, Greek yogurt with blueberries, a protein shake or a hard-boiled egg and some cheese are all good examples that are high in protein and will fuel your muscle repair and rebuilding process to keep you going until your next meal.
The Role of Fiber in the Diet for Boosting Energy Levels
Because fiber is not one of the three macro-nutrients, it is often overlooked at the role it plays in boosting our energy levels.
And because fiber itself does not have any calories, it does not produce energy on its own.
Most people associate fiber with helping promote good stool movements and that is one role it plays.
Types of fiber
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
As you can guess, the soluble type dissolves and forms a gel-like material in the colon. It helps to lower cholesterol and reduce blood sugar levels.
Typical foods with this type of fiber include oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots and barley.
Insoluble fiber increasea stool bulk and promotes the movement of that bulk through the digestive system, making it easier for people prone to constipation to have bowel movements.
Food with insoluble fiber include whole wheat, nuts, and vegetables, like cauliflower, green beans and potatoes.
Many of the plant-based foods contain both types of fiber like oatmeal and beans.
Amount of fiber
The amount of fiber one needs not only varies by gender, but also by age. For adult men 50 and younger they should consume 38 grams per day; 51 and older, 30 grams. For adult women 50 and younger, 25 grams; 51 and older, 21 grams.
But how does fiber boost energy levels?
To answer this question, we must dig into Anatomy 101.
The body likes a steady flow of nutrients that it can use.
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, complex carbohydrates break down more slowly and provide that steady flow of nutrients. Once the digestion process starts, the pancreas senses the influx of nutrients and releases just enough insulin to move those nutrients to the cells where they can be made into energy by the mitochondria. This process is called metabolism.
However, if we eat simple carbohydrates that typically do not have much fiber (sugar), they dissolve fast, and the blood stream is instantly flooded with insulin.
However once the nutrients are gone, energy levels drop dramatically, which is known as the sugar crash.
It just so happens that many of the complex carbohydrates are also high in fiber.
So not only do the complex carbohydrates dissolve more slowly, but the fiber also helps even out the flow of nutrients, thus preventing a spike in blood sugar.
This more even flow of nutrients, lasts longer, thus keeping up metabolism, which in turn keeps energy levels high.
So, while fiber does not provide energy in its own rite, it assists in creating an even flow of nutrients this keeping the metabolism high for a longer period of time.