The Link Between Protein & Hormone Health
All protein is not created equal.
Proteins are made of amino acids, which are known as the building blocks for a healthy body. Your body needs 20 different amino acids to build and repair cells and make other proteins that may function as hormones or enzymes. Without enough protein, our body will start to metabolize itself into malnutrition. Proteins play a role in almost every part of our body. Some proteins are adaptogenic, such as wild trout, whereas others overstimulate the immune system and create inflammation, such as grain-fed (factory farmed) beef.
Adequate amounts of protein help replace worn out cells, repairing your body from muscle breakdown and transport essential nutrients from one organ to another.
So where is the link between protein intake & hormones?
Lipoproteins transport lipids (fats), like cholesterol and triglycerides, for use in other essential functions in the body. But aren’t cholesterol & triglycerides bad, you say? NO! They are essential for all your normal and healthy hormone production. Estrogen, testosterone, DHEA etc are all directly derived from cholesterol. So, it stands to reason that if you don’t get enough high quality protein in your diet a major trickle down effect could be hormone imbalances. This can become an issue in those that are trying to lose weight and being too restrictive, but also with vegans & vegetarians if special attention isn’t paid to getting enough protein.
So, How much protein do you actually need?
The amount of protein you need completely depends on your personal health and how active you are in your daily routine. The recommended amount for the average adult is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, but most nutritionists generally agree that at least 0.36 grams per one pound of weight are more beneficial. For instance, if a person weighs around 150 pounds, then he or she should consume at least 54 grams of protein per day to maintain overall hormone health. However, this amount of protein really just protects you from falling prey to any sort of protein deficiency; if you train hard or are physically active, or you are fighting a certain diseases you need to increase that amount to regulate hormone function and prevent malnutrition. Nutritionists agree that we only need a small amount of protein to survive, but we need to increase the amount of protein in our diet if we want to actually thrive.
The right way to consume protein…
According to the Precision Nutrition guidelines, we can only store a limited amount of protein. You should wait for your body to replenish its already stored protein before you consume more of it. This requires movement and burning calories regularly. No more sedentary lifestyle. Consuming a healthy amount of protein can lead to the healthy functioning of your hormones, which promotes a strong immune system, efficient metabolism, and improved physical performance. Focus on maximizing your protein amounts in breakfast and snacks. This will allow you maximal calorie burn opportunities throughout your day, so any excess protein is less likely to be stored as fat. Maximizing protein in snacks also improves feelings of fullness, which will prevent over eating.
Can I overdo protein consumption?
Yes, it is possible to overdo it. Remember to consume all things, even the healthy ones, in moderation because anything that is consumed in excess becomes poison for your body. The same is true for protein consumption because the extra protein in your body can convert into fat or sugar, negating any positive effect the protein would have in the first place. Overconsumption of protein is primarily counter-productive; it rarely causes serious malady but should be monitored all the same. Know your numbers, know your activity level and know your goals. This will help you to know exactly how much protein your body needs.
Protein is essential for your body to survive and thrive. Start looking at your food labels and find out just how much protein your regular diet provides you before making any significant changes. You have to know where you are now, in order to know where you are going.
Adaptogenic Sources of Protein:
Wild-caught fish: Salmon, anchovies, sardines, herring, and mackerel.
Crustaceans: Particularly oysters, which are rich in copper.
Red meat: Go for wild or grass-fed and grass-finished.
Pastured poultry and eggs.
Pea protein: it’s a complete protein, i.e., it provides all of the amino acids you need. It’s also the least allergenic form of protein, so you are unlikely to develop intolerance as you might with other proteins (gluten and dairy). Choose a powder form of pea protein that’s free of gluten and dairy and low in sugar (less than 5 grams per serving).
Lentils and other legumes:
Some people tolerate them well; others experience inflammation, perhaps due to lectins or fermentation in the gut. See what’s true for you.
Seeds: Especially flax, chia, sunflower.
Hemp protein: One of the most digestible forms of protein if you have gut issues.
Nuts: Macadamia and Brazil nuts are less carbalicous.
Avoid: gluten, and if grains are inflammatory, avoid grains
I hope this post helps you fine tune your diet & nutrition goals.
Join me on my Facebook page,facebook.com/drlaramay, as well as Instagram & Twitter @drlaramay. Also, be sure to tune into my podcast on your favorite platform, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Podbean or Anchor.Fm @Light Body Radio to get all the juicy info coming your way in a easily digestible format. I look forward to hearing your feedback, comments and suggestions.
- Dr. Lara
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