Written by MindMate Staff
Protein is a vital part of who you are. It’s found almost everywhere in the body in almost every tissue, and your body cannot grow or repair itself without it. Compounds called amino acids are the building blocks that create protein, and these are either made by the body itself or converted. The body gets most of its amino acids from the foods we eat and, meat and animal products, especially, provide much of what we need. Quinoa, beans, and soya are other sources that can be utilised by those following vegetarian or vegan diets.
What Does It Do?
Protein is necessary for a variety of functions within the body. The main one, of course, is growth. Your organs, muscles, skin, hair, nails, bones, and even some hormones are constantly growing or being repaired by the body, and protein provides the building blocks for this to take place. This makes protein not only an important nutrient, but something that is vital to the sustaining of life, the body and all its functions, a pretty big deal right!?
Added to that, protein also has a big role to play in weight-loss. Digesting protein requires a lot more effort from the body than other food groups, and so high protein foods actually help the body to burn more calories during digestion. Protein is also good at satiating the appetite, because these foods naturally make you feel more full.
What are the Best Sources?
Dairy foods are rich in both protein and calcium, a super combination for growth and repair within the body. Milk protein is a blend of fast and slow-release whey and casein, two essential proteins. Yogurt is a great example, as it contains all the benefits of milk protein, without the lactose, making it ideal for those who may have allergies.
Cheese is also a great source of protein, however, when pursuing a balanced lifestyle it’s advisable to avoid fat-laden dairy products and opt instead for relying on fat-free milk and yogurt.
Meat is an obvious, abundant and readily available source of protein, and white-meat poultry such as turkey or chicken are definitely the best options here. These meats are more lean than red meats so you can enjoy the benefits of protein without unnecessary added fats.
How do you like your eggs in the morning? Each one contains around 6 grams of protein, which is remarkably high. What’s more, the protein in eggs is easily digested and quickly used by your body, making it a highly effective source.
Quinoa has been called a ‘complete protein’ because it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids, something that is true for very few other foods. Being a plant-based food, quinoa is also low in fat, suitable for vegetarians and also extremely filling.
Fish, and other seafood, are great sources of protein that generally have lower fat content than other meats. They also bring added benefits in the form of omega-3’s which are proven nutrients for boosting both body and brain!
A naturally-occurring source of protein that’s rich in iron too, beans are perhaps the cheapest and best value form of protein there is! They’re also another great option for vegetarians looking to up their protein intake.
How Much do you Need??
On average, a person should eat around 50 grams of protein everyday, which equals around 2 palm-sized portions of meat or fish. Your weight can also help to determine how much protein you should eat, with official advice in the UK suggesting people eat 0.75g of protein for each kilogram they weight, per day.
Surprisingly though, we don’t seem to find it difficult to get our fill of protein, official figures suggest many of us eat up to 55% more protein than we actually need every day. Still, given the importance of protein to every bodily function, it’s important to monitor your intake and ensure you’re eating enough to keep yourself in good health.