The Mental & Physical Benefits of Protein

Can Protein Boost Your Happiness Factor?

Did you know that most women and men in the US consume less than the daily recommended amounts of protein? Protein is vital for the formation of all organs, tissues, muscles, and hormones; it is required by every part of the body to develop, thrive, and function optimally, so if you aren’t consuming at least 8g for every pound of body weight, make up for it with optimal sources such as protein bars, or other protein-rich supplements, shakes and powders such as whey, casein, or egg white protein. In addition to helping you thrive in your chosen sport, stay at a healthy weight, and shorten your recovery time in the case of injury, proteins are also a powerful ally when it comes to boosting mental health.

Brain benefits of proteins

The daily consumption of protein is vital because this macronutrient plays an important role in brain fitness and rehabilitation. Brain cells multiply when we consume protein and healthy saturated fats, as do all other cells in the body. Hormones, which are in themselves proteins, affect mood and can influence the health of our brain. Just a few pertinent hormones include dopamine, cortisol, adrenaline, and melatonin - which together are responsible for everything from the way we deal with stressful events, to how happy and positive we feel. Protein also contains amino acids that make up our neurotransmitters: biochemical messengers that carry important signals from one brain cell to another.

Can a high protein diet benefit us psychologically?

A study published in the journal Appetite looked into the effects of consuming a high protein, low carbohydrate diet (HPLC) on a group of women with polycystic ovary syndrome who were seeking to lose weight. For 16 weeks, participants were assigned to either the HPLC or a low protein, high carbohydrate diet (LPHC). The findings showed that those on the HPLC diet had enhanced feelings of well-being. Researchers concluded that HPLC diets could be more efficient in terms of enabling dieters to stick to their regimen long-term.

Another study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that diets high in protein can help the elderly function more optimally on the physical, psychological, and sociological levels. The findings are vital considering the fact that across the globe, lifespans are increasing. Moreover, our ability to absorb or process protein declines as we age, prompting a need for greater protein consumption than in youth. Yet another study published in the Journal Nutrients suggests that protein should make up as much as 30% to 35% of seniors’ diets, to make up for “the lack of responsiveness to lower doses of protein” in the elderly.  

Protein enables our brain to carry out its basic functions, but it can also affect our mood and outlook on life. As noted in the studies mentioned above, consuming higher amounts of protein can boost our outlook as we aim to lose weight, improve the sense of well-being and help the elderly embrace their winter years with greater zest and vitality.