The Impact of Protein on Your Metabolism

From speeding up metabolism to repairing postworkout muscle damage, the right protein powder can play a key role in helping you reach your health and fitness goals.
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This may come as a shock, but simply eating lean protein can help boost your metabolism. Protein requires more calories to digest compared to other macros. For example, it takes more calories for the body to digest a lean piece of fish compared to a small baked potato. Your body burns more calories by processing the food. The scientific term for this is thermogenesis.

Protein also helps build and support the maintenance of muscle in the body. What’s so special about that? Well, the more muscle your body hosts, the higher your resting metabolic rate (baseline calories burned at rest). Plus, protein helps stabilize blood sugar, which in turn helps prevent insulin spikes in the body. When your blood sugar is unstable and rises, your body is more prone to storing fat.

Dr. Chelsea Axe

Dr. Chelsea Axe, DC, CSCS, CYT, nutrition coach for The 60-Day Metabolic Reset.

Clean protein powder can be a great tool to help you up your intake of this crucial macronutrient and spark your metabolism. Whether you prefer plant or animal protein is up to you. Here are some important facts about both types.

Plant Protein 101

For all my plant eaters out there, it’s beneficial to consume protein powder as part of your daily nutrition because it contains the proper amino acids needed for muscle growth. Amino acids are basically the building blocks of protein. Think of it like this: Protein is your home, and the foundation and bricks are the aminos. When all nine essential amino acids are present, you have what’s called a complete protein profile.

If you’re looking for a plant protein, know that different powders have different amino-acid profiles. Choose a protein powder that contains a blend of plant sources like brown rice, hemp, pea and chia to ensure you are getting a mix of amino acids and supplying your body with exactly what it needs.

I don’t recommend consuming soy protein or soy products. They’re almost always made from GMO soy. Soy has also been shown to serve as an estrogen mimicker in the body and therefore can disrupt your hormones, which can wreak havoc on your health and performance.

Whey vs. Casein

Derived from animals, both whey and casein play important roles in healing and repairing the body postworkout. Studies have shown that whey is an ideal protein to consume postworkout for muscle building and healing. Casein, on the other hand, is unique and amazing, in that it takes the body longer to digest, leading to less muscle breakdown and increased satiety, especially at night.

Collagen and Bone Broth

At this point, you may know that gut health plays an important role in overall health. It can play a major role in fitness, too! Collagen- and bone-broth-based powders are high in protein and support gut health. I personally consider both essential to consume on a daily basis. And while they’re derived from animals, I believe collagen and bone broth deserve a category of their own because their amino-acid profiles are totally unique.

The specific amino acids contained in collagen can help support the body in healing gut damage, such as leaky gut syndrome, and soothe a poorly functioning gut. When our guts are injured so to speak, we may not be able to take in much-needed nutrients. This in turn can cause a host of health issues such as food sensitivities, slow metabolism, bloating and fatigue.

Collagen and bone broth also can help aid in the healing of injured muscles, ligaments and tendons. I myself have actually suffered from cartilage degradation along with ligament injuries in my knee. Not fun! But incorporating collagen and bone-broth proteins into my daily diet has been crucial in the healing process and preventing further injuries. I typically use multi-collagen protein and bone-broth protein in my morning smoothies to make sure I fit them in on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, there are no plant protein options that mimic the effects of collagen in the body. There are foods you can eat to support your body’s collagen production but none that directly supply the necessary building blocks. Many of my vegan friends choose to avoid animal products but still include a multi-collagen protein.

My Favorite Protein Powders

My go-to protein powders are multi-collagen, bone broth and brown rice. I love collagen and bone broth because they’re so easy to digest and host a unique and powerful blend of amino acids. I try to avoid dairy because I don’t digest it well, so brown rice protein serves as a great alternative for recovering and rebuilding my muscles postworkout. 

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