Does Protein Give You Energy? What You Need to Know
When you begin to crash in the afternoon, what’s the first thing you reach for — an energy drink? Your fourth cup of java? A cookie? While carbs provide the most easily accessible fuel source for the cells in our body, the ideal snack when you need a little pick-me-up would be rich in protein — like a tasty plant-based protein shake or a handful of almonds!
Protein needs no introduction, as you likely already know it as one of the three macronutrients that make up a healthy diet (the other two being carbs and fat). But what you probably didn’t know is that the essential nutrient can benefit your body in more ways than one — including boosting your energy levels.
Interested in learning more? BioHealth has your back! Read on as we dive into the exciting world of protein to uncover its many benefits, including how it can give you energy.
First Things First. What Exactly Is Protein?
Most of us know protein as an essential building block for muscle — but the macronutrient in its many forms is involved in nearly every single bodily function. Nearly every cell in your body contains protein!
Proteins are made up of various combos of amino acids that are attached in long chains. Your body can produce many of the 20 to 22 amino acids that comprise proteins, but nine amino acids (known as “essential amino acids”) must be consumed through the foods we eat as our bodies can’t make them.
Foods containing all nine essential amino acids are called “complete proteins.” However, the truth is that we don’t need every single amino acid in every single bite we eat. As long as you’re eating a wide variety of amino acids throughout the day, you’ll likely fuel your body with adequate dietary protein to sustain proper functioning.
A few of the primary functions of proteins are:
- Transports oxygen and nutrients. Transport proteins carry oxygen, vitamins, and minerals throughout the body, ensuring that your body is supplied with the energy it needs to function optimally.
- Builds and repair. Your body uses amino acids to build bones, muscles, hair, skin, and nails and helps repair damaged tissue.
- Regulates a few essential hormones. A group of hormones called “protein and peptides” are derived from chains of amino acids. The gang includes insulin, glucagon, human growth hormone, and more, all of which are made possible with proteins.
Without filling your diet with a sufficient amount of protein, you run the risk of missing those key functions. Eventually, that could open Pandora's box, leaving you susceptible to many health problems, such as a loss of muscle mass, weakened functioning of the heart and lungs, and even early death — not good!
How Does Protein Give Your Energy?
As one of the most vital parts of your diet, you might be a little surprised to learn that protein isn’t the best source of energy. Yes, it plays many major roles in your health, but energy is not one of protein’s foremost strengths.
In fact, despite what you might think, carbohydrates are the premier source of energy. Why? Because carbs raise your blood glucose levels, you get a burst of energy when you have a fresh supply of glucose readily available in your body.
The problem, however, is that when glucose is no longer available in your bloodstream, a “crash” sets in, causing you to feel fatigued and sluggish. But when you reach for a yummy protein-rich snack instead, glucose leaves the bloodstream at a much slower rate, helping you to feel fuller and energized for longer.
Proteins, however, are very different from carbs as your body doesn’t store it in excess to use whenever it sees fit. That’s why it’s of the utmost importance to have enough protein in your diet.
If you want to keep your energy levels up throughout the day and avoid the notorious mid-day energy crash, stick with meals and snacks rich in protein. Only then will you be able to slow the rate at which glucose (your body’s main energy source) travels in and out of your bloodstream, helping to sustain your energy levels from sun-up to sun-down.
What Are the Best Sources of Protein?
Although it’s not your primary energy source, protein is essential to keep your muscles healthy and cells nourished. It makes no sense to consider carbs as the only energy source as protein — like other macronutrients — is indispensable.
You see, the secret to having more energy lies within a balanced diet. Your nutrition must include a sufficient supply of all nutrients — including protein.
So, what kind of protein is the best of the best, you ask? Protein can come from many different sources, including:
- Dairy products like milk
While these are all great protein sources, plant protein has been getting quite a bit of hype — and it’s easy to see why. Not only is plant protein less toxic than animal-based ones, but it is much easier to digest and doesn’t pose a health risk.
Consuming animal protein can sometimes mean introducing high percentages of saturated fats, hormones (used in breeding), and possibly other potentially harmful substances into your body — but this isn’t a risk with protein derived from plants.
Can Plant-Based Protein Help With Energy?
Like our delicious Phyto Perfect Protein + Superfoods, plant-based protein powder is a versatile addition to any daily routine. Due to the high vitamin content found in abundance in plants, plant-based protein can naturally increase energy and vitality.
Here are a few of the best plant-based proteins for your muscle, tissues, and energy reserves:
- Hemp Protein - composed of all the essential amino acids your body needs to thrive and a perfect 3:1 ratio between Omega-3 and Omega-6.
- Rice Protein - also comprised of all the essential amino acids, rice protein can provide 149 percent of the daily intake of protein per 100g— and the best part? It doesn’t contain cholesterol.
- Pea Protein - another popular plant-based protein, pea protein is rich in many essential nutrients like fatty acids, mineral salts, folic acid, vitamins, and enzymes. Plus, pea protein is easy to digest and shouldn’t upset your stomach.
What Happens if You Don’t Get Enough Protein
When you don’t fuel your body with sufficient protein, you could become deficient in the macronutrient. An estimated one billion people worldwide don’t get enough protein. Symptoms of protein deficiency include:
- Loss of muscle mass
- Fatty liver
- Skin, hair, and nail problems
- Increased risk of bone fractures
- Increased severity of infections
- Stunted growth in kids
- Greater appetite and calorie intake
Simply put, protein is critical to sustaining a healthy body and lifestyle.
So, does protein give you energy?
Your body’s primary source of fuel comes from carbohydrates. And when you eat carbs, your body converts them into glucose which gets absorbed by the bloodstream and used as energy.
The problem is that glucose is quick to leave the bloodstream, which is why you may experience a “crash” a few hours after noshing on carbs.
While protein won’t directly bump up your energy levels, it will slow down the rate at which glucose is absorbed by the bloodstream. This will allow a much steadier flow of energy throughout the day — aka, no crash!
When looking for healthy snacks that are rich in protein, we recommend checking out a good quality plant-based protein powder — like BioHealth’s Phyto Perfect.
Our plant-based Phyto Perfect protein powder is vegan, all-natural, gluten-free, a premium plant protein blend made from pea, hemp, rice, and chickpeas with body-nourishing superfood greens and fruits. But what else would you expect from the original pioneers of the Grass Fed/Pasture-Fed movement?
With BioHealth, your choice is simple, your nutrition is second-to-none, and your body is better than it was yesterday. Check us out today and experience the power of plants tomorrow!
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What are Proteins, and What is Their Function in the Body? | EUFIC
Eating to boost energy | Harvard Health