Does protein provide energy? Protein should be a key component of all diets, especially when it comes to working out and maintaining a strong, healthy body. Protein works to replenish your skin, bones, and muscles during and after a workout, and it keeps your metabolism in check, which then keeps your energy levels up.
But how important is a protein in direct relation to energy – in other words, does it actually provide energy? And should gym-goers aim to stock up on protein before hitting the weights? Read on to find out the answers to these questions.
How Does Protein Work in the Body?
The moment your body receives protein, that protein gets broken down and reformed into different proteins in your body. There is a wide range of protein sources available from the food we eat, and they all follow the same process.
These proteins have a long list of functions in the body. This includes fighting infections and helping cells follow their natural production process.
Protein works to replenish your muscles by replacing the amino acids that get worn out during your workout process. This either repairs broken muscles or contributes to muscle growth and extends to the replenishment of bones and skin.
A steady intake of protein is essential for this repairing process to be maintained, as your body contains no protein deposits. This means that when your body needs to repair, you must feed it protein so that it can do so successfully. Therefore, protein should be an essential part of all gym-goers’ diets.
In this sense, protein provides energy because it is constantly repairing the body and preventing you from feeling tired or sluggish from broken muscles because of an intense workout. Protein keeps your body functioning, but it does not necessarily provide an energy boost.
Best Sources Of Protein
Many different foods we take in on a daily basis provide some form of protein to the body. Foods that are high in protein are eggs, nuts, dairy, seafood, legumes, meat, and seeds, just to name a few.
Normally, animal-based protein food provides the 9 essential amino acids that our bodies need to function properly and healthily. However, soyfoods are a plant-based protein that provides all 9 essential amino acids that are needed for a normal healthy body.
Nuts, seeds, and legumes have high amounts of some of the essential amino acids. It seems that animal-based protein food provides the highest amount of essential amino acids needed by our bodies. The only real exception is soyfoods, which have even higher amounts of essential amino acids than animal-based protein foods.
Keep in mind, though, that you will generally have to consume more plant-based protein food than animal-based to get the right amount of protein for your body. Protein is a cornerstone of the daily diet and is also one of the main components of our bodies, which is why it is so essential.
Does Protein Give You an Energy Boost?
Unlike glucose, protein does not provide you with a boost of energy. When your body is digesting, the amino acids found in protein take a very long time to digest. Even then, they are mostly going towards repairing damaged tissue.
Some of these proteins, once broken down, turn into glucose and fatty acids. This provides energy to some extent, but nowhere near as much as you would get from broken-down carbohydrates. Plus, given the length of time required for the breakdown of proteins, your body will have already searched and found the required energy elsewhere.
Protein does produce energy for the body in many other ways, including keeping your metabolism running smoothly. Although it takes a long time for some proteins, such as fish and nuts, to be digested, proteins cause the metabolism to operate at a faster rate. This means that your body can have a quicker and more consistent intake of nutrients from the food it is digesting, and it will turn some of this into energy.
Protein is a small participant in energy metabolism, as it only provides 4 calories of energy per gram of protein. The problem is when you consume more protein than your body needs, as it will store that energy in fat because of the high concentration.
By mixing a little bit of protein-energy with the energy provided by carbs and fats, you will have a longer-lasting energy source. Because of the slow production of energy from protein food, your body will use the energy from carbs and fats.
The process will then work like this. First, the body will use the energy from the carbs, and then the protein, and then the fat. This provides more energy over a longer period of time. In essence, the protein provides your body with a steady and longer source of energy to use over time.
Because the body does not store protein, you need to increase your protein intake if you want a backup source of energy. For improved and long-lasting stamina, protein provided by high protein food may be a good choice of fuel for your body.
While protein does not raise sugar levels, it will encourage metabolic change if higher proteins are taken with fat instead of carbs. These metabolic changes within the body may improve overall weight loss but need to be restricted to the minimum.
While protein is very important for many other purposes, our bodies would rather use the energy provided by carbs and fats.
Protein Keeps You From Going Hungry
Another way that protein maintains energy is by keeping you from going hungry. Although protein increases your metabolism, it also takes a long time to break down in your stomach, so the feeling of fullness it creates lasts for longer.
This has a positive effect on weight loss and the maintenance of glucose, which also keeps your energy levels up. Compared to carbohydrates, proteins do not cause a minor sugar rush or necessarily cause periods of lethargy throughout the day or during a workout.
Carbohydrates tend to use up your glucose levels whenever a crash is sensed in the body, which limits the number of energy deposits the body can reach for later. Protein does not need to do this, so it keeps energy levels consistent throughout the day.
For this reason, nutritionists suggest that a heavy protein meal should either kick off your day or be consumed before working out.
Other Means Of Gaining Energy
As we have seen, protein allows for energy to be maintained, as opposed to creating energy for the body. There are many other ways that the body can create energy to help keep the body in good shape and health.
Whether you are having a protein shake before, during, or after your workout session, you are going to want to keep your water levels up to keep your body functioning and your energy levels high.
As we mentioned before, carbohydrates can give your body a sugar rush at times, causing it to crash massively later on. Despite this, they are the biggest and most necessary energy source for your body. To avoid a crash, avoid carbs that include a lot of sugar, and make sure they contain a high level of fiber.
You can help your body process carbs into energy by including magnesium in your diet. Magnesium is best obtained through vegetables, whole grains, and nuts, such as Brazilian nuts, walnuts, and almonds.
Protein – The Slow Source Of Energy
When it comes to energy sources for your body, those provided by protein are last in the queue for energy use by the body. In the resting stage, your muscles can use energy from fatty acids, but when they are active, glucose will be their first choice of energy.
It is also true that the amino acids provided by protein food also turn into glucose, but they take a much longer process to get there. Because of the nitrogen content in the amino acids from protein, extra steps are needed to remove the nitrogen before the protein turns into glucose.
The energy from this glucose that is formed will then be stored as fat in your body to provide energy when no other source is available. As long as you consume energy from other sources, such as fat and carbs, your body will not use that energy.
You can look at the energy from protein as the backup energy system for those times when no energy is available for the body to use. It is similar to a backup power supply system when there is a power outage at the power supply grid.
Another problem is that, when protein is used as energy, ammonia is formed as a byproduct, which will cause fatigue in the muscles. This is because the ammonia will pile up in the muscles during extended and intense training sessions.
You will also use up the protein that is needed for the repair and restoration of your muscles that have been damaged through intense training. If your body needs energy, it is safer to use the easier sources of carbs and fat instead of using those provided by protein.
So, does protein provide energy? Well, protein does not necessarily provide energy, but it helps maintain energy while doing physical activities. If it were not for a steady intake of protein, your body would feel exhausted after the simplest of exercises, because protein is necessary to repair the muscles, skin, and bones that inevitably get broken down while working out. In that sense, protein keeps exercise from wearing you out.
Protein also maintains energy levels by keeping you full for longer and by making your metabolism run smoothly. Protein should be consumed alongside a healthy diet of carbs, water, and magnesium, amongst other things, to keep your energy levels up while working out and giving your body energy for repairing your muscles afterward.