22/07/2013 09:16 BST | Updated 21/09/2013 06:12 BST

High Protein Diets and You


There's a new trend for high protein diets emerging in the health and weight loss world. Gone are the days where protein-heavy meals and protein supplements were reserved only for body-builders looking to construct Hulk-like muscles. Everyday consumers are also adding more protein to their daily intake, with interesting results.

A high protein diet usually requires an increase in protein intake at the cost of other foods, which can be valuable in a number of ways. Because protein takes longer for the body to process than most other types of food, you'll continue to feel full for longer after eating a protein-rich meal. If you're feeling full, you'll be less inclined to eat more, which ultimately results in a lower number of calories being consumed and the potential for weight loss.

Protein is incredibly powerful: it aids the growth of new tissue, contributes to muscle mass and improves bone health. A study of 130 US marines has shown even more benefits including fewer infections, less heat exhaustion and decreased muscle soreness. So, the question is, should you be adding more protein to your diet?

Is a high protein diet right for you?

As more people have taken an interest in their wellbeing and begun to monitor their food intake, the consumer demand for protein-based products has continued to grow. If you are exercising as frequently as possible and trying to eat more healthily, a high protein diet may well be right for you - and increasing the amount of protein you're eating doesn't mean forcing down enormous plates full of meat at every meal time.

Although the general awareness and popularity of protein's benefits is on the rise, the people who can gain most from a high protein diet are still body-builders. Protein can fuel workouts and help to build and repair muscles. However, active people will also find advantages from a protein-oriented diet, especially if they engage in weight training due to the muscle impact of protein.

What about supplements like shakes and powders?

When many people hear the term 'high protein diet', their mind will automatically generate an image of a muscular body-builder wolfing down a huge plate of hearty red meats at the family dinner table. It's rare, however, even for serious body-builders, to consume protein in this way. The most popular way to add more protein to your diet is through supplements such as shakes and powders, which are much easier to monitor and quantify than ingesting big portions of potentially fatty foods.

Timing is very important when introducing shakes and powders to your diet. Protein shakes are most often used by athletes for nourishment after workouts, but there are different kinds of shakes to drink at different times. For example, a pre-workout shake is designed to aid exercise, so the best kind of supplement to take here is one containing high protein and a degree of carbohydrate to help your body balance itself during intense periods of exercise. Elevated growth hormones during sleep make drinking a protein shake before bed valuable too.

The most effective time for protein consumption, however, is post-workout. There is a small window of opportunity to help repair and strengthen muscles most effectively after intense exercise, and most people don't want to sit down to a full meal after a gym session, so a protein shake such as the popular Maximuscle Protein is the perfect option.

What do you think? Will you be adding more protein to your diet?