As I continue on with my love affair of protein, here is the second reason why you should eat more protein: Allows you to burn 50 to 70 calories per day just to digest and metabolize extra protein.
Unlike carbohydrate or fat, there is no way to store extra protein in our bodies. Therefore, our livers and kidneys have to do a bunch of work to convert the protein into other compounds either for storage (can be converted into carbohydrate or fat) or for elimination (something called urea). That takes a lot of energy...about 50 to 70 calories worth.
Now that's not much...barely a few swigs of wine....but it's something. And for many SHEs, weight creeps up as we age. An extra 50 calories a day could add up to 5 pounds over a year. I don't know about you, but I'd rather eat the cottage cheese every morning than see it in the mirror one day...if you catch my drift.
On top of this, it is pretty darn hard to overeat protein (see Part I on protein). It is much easier to continue eating out of a bread basket or bag of chips (I am definitely an expert on this). As such, you may also be less likely to overindulge on calories...which helps the bottom line. (pun intended)
Now the question of how much protein a day to get the benefit of expending those extra calories is a tricky one. Since I am only a faux-cisian, I should state up front that folks with certain health conditions (e.g., kidney disease) should not be increasing protein intake. For the rest of us, I think the answer lies somewhere between 90 and 150 grams per day (and up to 200 grams per day for those HEs). That's about 25-35% of your total daily energy intake from protein. Most of you are probably eating between 50 and 70 grams per day right now.
Here's where things get a little more interesting. Some experts suggest that the more INACTIVE you are, the more protein you should consume...more like 100 to 150 grams. The more ACTIVE you are, the less protein you should consume...more like 90 to 110 grams. Mrs/Dr. T...are you sure you blogged that correctly? Why yes, I am quite sure. The simple reason is that more active folks need more carbohydrates to comfortably perform their activities.
An easy place to start is to target 100 grams per day and see how you feel. I will tell you that it's almost impossible to get there without a big dose at breakfast. And remember that each of us has a unique body chemistry...not everyone will find that increasing the protein content of their diet is a good thing for them. Would love to hear from folks if they try this!!!