10 Reasons Why You Need Protein

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Experienced exercisers know the importance of protein, and while physiques are fine-tuned in the gym, they’re really assembled at mealtime. But adequate protein is more than the ticket to a sleeker, fitter physique. It turns out chowing down on those aminos could be even more important for women when it comes to appearance and long-term health. And an increasing amount of research is highlighting the importance of protein to the female diet, especially among active women.

1. Protein Is Better at Keeping You Lean

The Atkins Diet made bacon-lovers rejoice, but not all of us are ravenous carnivores. But there was definitely something to the trend: Cutting back on carbs and replacing those calories with protein contributes to a decrease in fat tissue.

And research suggests that effect is significantly more pronounced in women (who typically have a higher percentage of body fat) than in men. Perhaps another reason to celebrate the power of cheesecake.

2. Protein Controls Hunger All Day

Eating a high-protein meal early in the day —Greek Yogurt with fresh fruit, for example — triggers a hormonal response that helps keep hunger at bay all day. Chow down early to control eating often.

3. Protein Keeps You Full

Protein’s magic formula for satiety really works in two ways: It controls appetite later on and promotes a greater feeling of fullness than carbs or fat. Basically, that means a food high in protein takes less to get you feeling full.

4. Protein Makes Your Body Burn More Calories

When compared to a higher-carb diet, higher-protein diets tend to trigger more thermogenesis (say that five times fast). Greater thermogenesis is generally what’s referred to when someone talks about a “faster metabolism,” and more protein can signal the body to burn more calories before, during, and after meals.

5. Protein Is Good for Bone Health

Women are at an especially high risk of bone degeneration. So while protein often gets a bad rep as being bad-for-the-bones, it turns out this macronutrient is actually vital to proper calcium absorption and bone growth. For the lactose-tolerant, that means dairy gives a great one-two punch of calcium and a full protein, all in one food. Many tasty protein supplements are also high in calcium and great on the go!

6. Protein Helps Fight Aging

As we age, our bodies tend to lose muscle mass. Eating more protein — along with regular exercise, including resistance training — can help our bodies maintain and build muscles to keep us going strong well into the golden years. Make sure to grab a protein shake or other high-protein snack post-workout to promote muscle repair!

7. Protein Protects from Stress

When we get stressed, all sorts of things go haywire on the inside: oxidative damage wreaks havoc on cells as our internal systems struggle to contain hormone influxes. But a diet high in protein — think 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, up to 50% over the “normal” recommendations for sedentary folks — can act as a buffer against this damage. All systems go for protein!

8. Protein Is Great for Your Skin

Our skin takes a beating 24/7, and it’s especially under siege when the sun’s shining bright. UV damage takes a toll on our birthday suits and is a leading contributor to skin’s aging. Diets high in certain amino acids — the building blocks of protein — can help reduce the aging effect of outside elements like UV light (along with a quality sunscreen, of course). And BCAA (branched-chain amino acids) supplements can be an especially potent way to get those aminos conveniently.

9. Protein Is Great for Your Hair

In order to keep growing to its fullest, hair needs a well-balanced diet — including lots of protein. Experiencing slowed or no hair growth? Stress and/or a protein deficiency could be to blame.

10. It’s Delicious!

Okay, so this one might be cheating, but let’s be real: Protein is a delicious part of any balanced diet. Chomping down on veggies and grains all day might seem great to a few of us, but you’re really cutting yourself off from countless great food options ranging from sweet to savory. And upping your protein intake isn’t just for the meat-eaters among us: When prepared in the right combinations, non-meat or dairy protein sources can give you all the amino acids necessary for everything from lean muscle to great hair.

 

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Can You ‘Train’ Your Waist Thin?

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Khloe Kardashian has one. Kim Kardashian-West and Amber Rose do, too. According to many, these women possess the quintessential female body shape-the hourglass figure- with a large bust, tiny waist and curvy hips.

It is well-known and well-documented, that women will go to great lengths to achieve that “36-24-36” shape. One of the latest attempts is the waist trainer- a compression undergarment that’s akin to a girdle and meant to “train your waist” to be smaller.

According to Google, searches for “waist trainers” have more than doubled in the past year! Of course, thanks to endorsements from celebrities- including Jessica Alba, the Kardashians, Brooke Burke, and Snooki- who claim that these products are the secret to their beautiful physiques. Many women are even taking to social media to document their waist training progress- more than 146,000 photographs have been tagged #waisttraining on Instagram alone!

But can you really train your waist?

Companies that sell fitness waist trainers claim that they “compress your core, ramp up perspiration, release toxins, and metabolize fat.” The tight fit also restricts your abdomen, reducing your food intake during the day. Advocates assert that these garments will help you lose fat and inches from your waist.

The basic premise behind these waist trainers is that they spot reduce fat around the center of your body. This is an extreme misconception. If you want to lose body fat, you’re going to do that through exercise and a sensible diet. You CAN NOT target where you will lose fat from. We would all be walking around with dream bodies, wouldn’t we? Waist trainers will not cause you to permanently lose fat on your belly; they can simply cause a re-distribution of the fat (and organs) in your midsection.

Waist trainers also make you sweat… alot-due to the fact that these trainers are typically made from latex. When you sweat, you’re shedding water weight, and that’s not fat- but it can appear that you’ve lost fat… well, until you drink water again. People may lose weight initially- whether that be from water weight or reduced food intake- but you would have to wear the thing forever in order to keep the weight off and to keep the shape.

So, what’s the best way to achieve an hourglass shape? 

Simple. Exercise and eating right.

If you’re not willing to put in the effort, then anything else is the equivalent to taking a magic pill (and trust me, I’ve searched for that pill my entire life-If there was one out there, I would’ve found it by now 🙂 )

Snack Attack

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Try this afternoon snack to help ward off that mid-day slump!

1/2 Avocado (sliced)
2 tbsp. of dried ceci beans (chickpeas)

A great mix of healthy fats, carbs & protein! 🙂

New Month, Same Goals!

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IM IN LOVE WITDA COCO

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I don’t struggle with muscle cramps often, but on days that I do…

Hold on…

This is starting to sound like”The Most Interesting Man in the World” Dos Equis Ads…

Let’s re-group. 🙂

On days that I struggle with muscle cramping- which is usually on the days that I do longer cardio sessions- I throw back some coco water for the electrolyte boost.

This stuff packs 325mg of Potassium + 22mg of Magnesium + 110mg of Sodium in just 8 fl. oz!

Do you like coconut water? Sound off in the comments below! 🙂

(Please note: If you suffer from excessive cramping- it is best to see your healthcare provider to rule out any underlying medical conditions. This post is primarily for anyone who suffers from occasionally muscle cramping due to excessive sweating.)

The Most Underrated Ab Exercise

PLANKS.

It may not look like much, but the Plank can’t be beat for building a strong core from the inside out.

MASTER THE PLANK

It’s essential to master the basic front plank before moving on to more advanced variations, because it teaches the foundational cues that make all planking movements effective. And when done consistently and correctly, it will—not can, will—confer mega strength benefits.

Start off by getting into a basic plank position: propped on your forearms, elbows in line with your shoulders, legs shoulder-width apart, and your toes planted firmly.

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The most important element of a good plank is a neutral spine or “flat” back. The most common problem I see in planks is a sinking low back, but the second-most common problem is an arched back with the hips in the air. To keep a neutral spine, imagine pulling your belly button back towards your spine.

Another element of a good plank is proper shoulder position. Be careful not to shrug the shoulders up toward your ears. The final element is head position. Do your best to keep your head neutral, like it is when you stand straight and stare forward. Resist the urge to crane your neck up or let your head droop down towards the floor.

If you do it right, your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles. If this isn’t easy, good. Planks are not supposed to be easy. 🙂

Once you’ve mastered the basic plank, you can move onto some fun variations!

LIKE A BIRD

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In Honor of Glute Day, here’s one of my favorite stretches- Pigeon Pose.

This yoga pose opens up your hips by stretching the hip rotators (booty area) AND hip flexors (the long muscles that run along the front of your thighs & pelvis). I try to do this stretch before every workout because my hips are often tight. I’m talking everyday tight.

So, what causes tight hips?

First, modern life requires sitting all day, which keeps your hips from the rotation, flexion, and extension they need to remain agile. Second, common sports such as running and cycling—and even an everyday activity like walking—demand hip strength but not flexibility. The third culprit is stress, which creates tension in your body, especially in your hip area, which is a complex cluster of powerful muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Even a little bit of stress-induced clenching can really lock them up.

So, short of tossing out your chair and entirely eliminating stress from your life, what can you do to unstick your hips and get them gliding freely again? For starters, you can start to incorporate Pigeon Pose into your daily routine.

Try it out! 🙂 Use the basic photo below for guidance.

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