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Protein Benefits

Protein is made up of amino acids and is one of the building blocks of bone, muscle, and skin and is supports the production of hormones, enzymes, and more.

Protein helps gain and retain muscle mass and also supports fat loss and performance amongst other things. And you thought protein was just for gym junkies!

Did you think protein was just for gym junkies?


Muscle loss affects us as we age through a condition known as Sarcopenia. This condition results in a loss of muscle mass. In addition, as we age we tend to eat less, meaning lower protein intake from diet. Our protein absorption also gets impacted for a variety of reasons. So we risk muscle loss as a result of inactivity and insufficient protein. Protein can help you gain or retain both strength and muscle. Read the studies below for more information.

Protein Research Studies 

A ten-day study of 22 older inactive adults found those who received 15g of protein per day maintained muscle synthesis while muscle synthesis in those without the protein dropped 30%. You can read the research in the National Library of Medicine here.

In another study, daily protein supplementation was given to men new to resistance training during a twelve-week program where they trained twice a  week using eight standard exercise machines. Strength was assessed by five max repetitions and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Results indicated significantly higher gains in strength at 41%, with only 31% gain in the group not receiving protein. You can read the detailed research here.   

Fat Loss

Protein improves satiety which means it can cut cravings, i.e. you don’t feel as hungry. Protein can help you feel fuller for longer. 

A study of 36 men who consumed BCAA's (Branched Chain Amino Acids) which are found in most proteins, during resistance exercises increased their lean mass, muscle strength, and achieved fat loss. Each man had been training for at least two years and weighed on average 83kg. They trained all muscle groups four days a week. The BCAA group doubled their gain in bench-press. All the detail of this study here.

Animal studies have shown similar outcomes in reduced body weight and fat. It is worth noting we talk about fat loss and not weight loss above, some studies have produced inconsistent results, so there is more research needed to see if proteins can deliver weight loss.


Proteins can help alleviate fatigue and improve not only performance but also recovery.

The three BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) are widely used to improve athletic performance and stimulate muscle recovery.

In a study of 16 resistance-trained athletes, muscle recovery, soreness, and performance all improved in the group receiving BCAA's. This was after doing six sets of ten full squats. All were diet controlled and results were taken immediately, 1hr, 24hrs, and 48hrs post-exercise.

BCAAs are good for passive muscle recovery and relate to less reduced muscle soreness. This is from a review of eight trials conducted in 2018.

Mood and Sleep

Tryptophan, one of the amino acids in protein is needed for the production of serotonin which most of you would no doubt be aware of. It is a regulator of mood, sleep, and other behaviors.

A study of  59 mentally and physically healthy women aged 45-65 years old received either a supplement or a placebo for nineteen days. Emotions changed showing a shift from negative stimuli to showing reduced attention to negative stimuli and a bias toward happiness during the study. Increased energy, shorter reaction times, and some increases in attention were observed. Find the supporting research here. 

Low levels of serotonin can be linked to depressed behaviors and interrupted sleep, several studies have shown how tryptophan has lead to improved energy and happiness levels. Tryptophan is an amino acid found in most proteins.

Muscle, Fat Loss, Performance, Mood & Sleep.

Benefits of Protein

So the bottom line is, your body needs protein to survive and supports in a number of important areas including:

  • Recovery after exercise
  • Building and/ or retaining muscle mass
  • Fat loss
  • Reducing appetite and/ or cravings
  • Preserving lean muscle
  • Improving exercise performance
  • Mood and sleep

Protein has also been associated with other benefits. While we found mentions of these, we did not conduct detailed research into trials and/ or studies and thus included them for interest only. These include reduced blood pressure, lowering blood sugar, protecting the body against cancer, improving immune function, reducing depression symptoms and, increasing bone mineral density. 

There are different types of protein available should you wish to consider a supplement such as protein powder, but make sure you know how much protein you need, and if you indeed have a protein gap.

Keep in mind

Before you rush off and consume only protein our advice is always to context any changes in your diet or an increased intake in protein against your current diet and of course your individual circumstances, and to seek the advice of a medical professional before doing so. Also, please read our protein guide for more information.

Keep in mind a healthy well balanced nutritional diet doesn't go away and should ideally contain enough protein to meet protein. Make sure you don't have a protein gap and that you get the key BCAAs present. Read more on protein intake here

If you are training, especially resistance type training which is key to maintaining muscle mass as you get older, using a protein supplement with an optimal amino acid profile can help to cover any protein gaps.  

How much protein do I need?
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