1. Protein builds muscle
Protein is built from amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscles, and eating an adequate amount of protein prevents your body from breaking down muscle for energy.
2. Protein repairs muscle tissue
The amino acids in protein help your muscles recover after a tough workout, or even when you have a more serious injury or tear.
3. Protein keeps you feeling full
High-protein snacks keep people feeling fuller than high-fat snacks, says University of Missouri–Columbia research. "Protein stimulates some hormones in our gut that act on our brain to tell us that we are full," says Arentson-Lantz.
4. Protein helps you lose weight
Your body uses more energy to break down protein because the amino acids are bound together so tightly. In other words, protein forces your body to burn extra calories: 30 percent of the calories from protein, in fact, compared to the meager 5 to 15 percent you burn when breaking down fat and carbs.
5. Protein lowers your blood sugar
Eating protein and vegetables before carbs may lower your blood sugar by up to 37 percent, according to researchers at the Weill Cornell Medical College. Eat your chicken or salmon before your fried rice to reap the rewards of having protein on your plate.
6. Just a little bit is enough
"Eating huge amounts of protein is probably not going to keep you feeling full longer than eating a moderate amount of protein," says Arentson-Lantz. "Same goes for muscle health: Unless you're a bodybuilder, a moderate amount of protein at each meal will be just as effective." Instead of focusing on how much protein you're consuming, Arentson-Lantz recommends concentrating on the quality of your protein. Some of her recommendations include low-fat dairy, eggs, lean meats, and good plant proteins.
7. Protein provides a brain boost
The benefits of protein extend beyond your stomach, all the way up to your brain. You can thank tyrosine, an amino acid that makes you more engaged and alert.
8. Protein supplies you with nutrients
Protein is a source for other necessary nutrients, like B-12, which builds red blood cells and promotes neurological function, according to the National Institutes of Health.
9. Protein is good for your hair
The secret to hair like Beyonce's? Protein. Without enough, your hair may thin and shed more than usual.