We all know that protein is the stuff body builders are made of! Ok, not entirely, but it's true that protein is the basic building blocks of all lean tissue - including your muscles and your internal organs (heart, kidney, liver, etc).
What is also true is that your body's lean tissues are where all those calories you eat are used, so it should make sense that the more lean tissue in your body, the more calories you burn.
Most 'diets' cause you to lose weight from your lean tissue as well as your fat reserves because diets often restrict the amount of proteins you eat.
If having more lean tissue causes you to burn more calories, what do you think the effect of losing lean tissue in the body is? If you are losing lean tissue due to your diet, the less calories you burn and the harder it becomes to keep losing weight.
Sounds kind of self-defeating, doesn't it?
Now, back to the topic of protein in a muscle building diet - let's explore what protein is used for.
Protein provides your body with essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of new proteins that your body makes. Your body consumes the protein you ingest, breaks it down and builds new proteins that it can use to repair and build your muscles.
Not all Proteins are the Same!
There are many variations of proteins (over 20,000 in your body), so it is important to eat the right kind that will give your body the right amino acid building blocks to create the appropriate protein strands you need to grow muscle.
Ideally, you want to be looking at animal and dairy-based proteins, not only do they contain all of the essential amino acids your body needs (which plant-based often lack), but they also contain a significant amount of Leucine; studies have shown that enough leucine in the body causes your lean tissues to kick it up a notch when it comes to burning calories and creating new muscle mass.
In order to keep your body sufficiently supplied you need to be providing 30 grams of protein every 5 to 6 hours - so at each meal of the day, plus a high-protein rich snack or two a day.
Notice I said 'every' meal. This needs to include breakfast as well to kick-start your metabolism early. Failing to do this can put your body in a kind of fat storage mode for the entire day, having the opposite effect to what we are looking to achieve.
Take a look at your current diet; do you know how much and what kind of protein you are consuming? How often do you eat?