What exactly are the benefits of protein and how much of an understanding do you have? We chat to Glenisk and Dr Brendan Egan about everything you need to know
This article is sponsored by Glenisk
Glenisk discusses the increase in popularity of dietary protein for its many health and performance reasons with Dr Brendan Egan, with yogurt and other dairy being key natural sources.
The rise of dietary protein
In recent years, there has been a steady accumulation of scientific evidence supporting the health-promoting effects of higher daily protein intakes than those typically recommended by health authorities. For instance, the current EU recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.83 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass for the average member of the population. It is now well-established that about 50% more than that is required for adults over the age of 50 years to maintain muscle size and function. Or for adults actively trying to maintain muscle while losing fat during a period of weight loss. Moreover, athletes will often eat two to three times the RDA for protein in pursuit of their goals during periods of intense training and competition. As a result, it appears as though an obsession with protein-containing foods has arisen, and unsurprisingly the popularity of yogurt is rising too as it is an excellent source of ‘high quality’ protein.
The role of protein in supporting fat loss
Although a calorie deficit of some kind is required, a higher intake of dietary protein can support fat loss. Firstly, protein tends to be more satiating that other nutrients. Which means it helps curb appetite for longer. Secondly, the energy burned during the digestion and absorption of protein is higher than for carbohydrate or fat. Thirdly, a higher protein intake maintains muscle mass during weight loss. This means that fat is preferentially lost at this time. While the ‘slowing of metabolism’ that sometimes occurs when muscle is lost is prevented. Because of this protein component, but perhaps also due to other nutrients like calcium and probiotics, yogurt consumption is associated with lower body fat. It’s also associated with better indicators of health in both children and adults.
The role of protein in active lifestyles
Exercise results in cycles of damage and repair of muscle, and protein is a key nutrient in the process of recovery. This means that athletes and active exercisers have a two to three times higher requirement for dietary protein. This is particularly true for individuals undertaking very intense training. Or those aiming to increase their muscle size, or those aiming to drop body fat while maintaining muscle. As a general rule, athletes are advised to eat 20g of protein at each meal and snack throughout the day, but especially so in the recovery window after exercise.
As many athletes eat four to six times per day, this can mean a lot of protein. Therefore, tasty, easy to prepare meals are ideal. Especially as those containing yogurt and dairy are particularly valuable. This is because of the intake of essential amino acids, the building blocks of muscle. They are particularly important to promote recovery and increase muscle growth or maintain muscle size. Dairy foods contain both whey and casein protein, which contribute to essential amino acid availability.
Adding protein to your diet through yogurt
Consuming yogurt on a regular basis is a simple way to add protein to your diet. Either through traditional whole milk yogurt, or through high protein varieties. For instance, a medium-sized tub of natural yogurt (125 g) or high protein yogurt (150 g) provides between 7 and 15 grams of protein respectively. The guideline of 50% more protein than the RDA for over 50s would mean an extra 25 to 40g per day. Therefore, small but meaningful contributions from yogurt can assist people meet their protein intake targets. Which will help to support their health and fitness goals. See the Glenisk website for this smoked mackerel and yoghurt crush recipe and other ideas for incorporating yoghurt into your meals.