Two benefits of a high-protein diet are healthy skin and increased muscle mass. Protein is full of amino acids that create collagen in your body, a substance that thickens your skin and leaves it looking clearer. Protein is also the only food group that makes your muscles grow, because it stimulates the production of cells in your muscles. However, this imbalances your diet and can put stress on your bodily systems.
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The USDA recommends your diet be made up of 18 percent protein, 28 percent fat, and 54 percent carbohydrates to achieve optimum health. This means you will only eat 91 g of protein per day in a typical diet. However, on a high-protein diet you get 30 to 50 percent of your daily calorie needs from protein, so you are eating at least 1 g of protein for every pound of body weight.
Protein for Healthy Skin
Protein contains amino acids called L-lysine and L-proline, which are very important in the creation of collagen in your body. Collagen gives structure to your skin’s tissues. As you get older, your collagen breaks down, which may lead to wrinkles. So eating a high-protein diet fortifies your collagen levels and therefore makes your skin thicker and less prone to wrinkles.
Protein for Muscle Mass
Protein is present in every single cell in your body and it is a key part of muscles, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. When you absorb protein through your diet, it repairs the cells in your muscles and stimulates the growth of the ones. Bodybuilding.com explains that the amino acids found in protein increase muscle mass, and they also give you the energy to train harder and do more repetitions when lifting weights. The amount of fiber in your muscles increases on a high-protein diet, and this speeds up your muscles’ recovery time after exercise.
Lean meats and fish are the best sources of protein, because they are high in protein but also low in saturated fat. Burgers, New York strip steaks and hot dogs give you protein, but their high fat content increases your cholesterol levels. This stops blood from reaching your muscles and cells and will lead to deceased muscle mass and blotchy skin. Instead, choose boneless, skinless chicken or turkey, flank steak, extra-lean pork, or fish, such as salmon or mackerel. Other sources of protein include egg whites, lentils, beans, peas, nuts, cheese, soy milk and whole wheat cereals. Vegetarians must be very disciplined to make sure they get enough dietary protein, but if you eat meat, you should get some of your daily protein quota from vegetarian sources, because this will lower your cholesterol.
There are a number of protein supplements, such as whey protein, which help increase your daily protein consumption. If you decide to try these, always read the label and consult your doctor first. A diet too heavy in protein may lead to dizziness and dehydration. If you experience these symptoms, consult your doctor and return to a normal diet.