The Power of Protein
Updated: Apr 21, 2020
Everyone's talking about protein right? Some foods are even being labelled 'high protein' but why do we need protein and how much should we be eating?
Protein does more than just build muscles. It's involved in how your liver processes and detoxify things, cell communication and hormone production too.
And here's something that may surprise you, as we get older we actually need more protein. The same goes for if you're ill or have had surgery. So instead of taking grapes next time you visit someone in hospital take them some hummus or nuts or even a protein shake!
Protein as a nutrient is essential, which means we HAVE to eat it, we can not make it ourselves. It is made up of small components called amino acids. There are 20 amino acids but just 9 are essential. So we need to make sure we are getting enough every day.
The best way to do this is? At each meal or snack you have ask yourself, where is my protein in here?!
You should be thinking about different types of protein too. Try to vary what you eat over the course of 24 hours. This will ensure you are getting the full compliment of amino acids you need, in the levels you need.
so for example: Porridge with nuts (pro) and milk ( pro) for breakfast
A pot of greek yogurt ( pro) and berries mid morning
A chicken ( pro) and quinoa ( pro) salad at lunch
Hummus (pro) and veggie sticks mid afternoon
Salmon (pro) with sweet potato and veg in the evening
Animal sources of protein contain all 9 essential amino acids which makes them a complete source of protein. Vegetarian sources like beans are not complete proteins so you need to make sure you are eating a variety of them by mixing up your protein sources. This will ensure you are getting the right balance of all 9 amino acids every day.
So as a veggie you want to combine things like lentils and brown rice or wholemeal toast and baked beans.
What does protein do?
It keeps you full for a longer period of time than say carbs as it slows down the digestion of other foods you eat.
It supports your energy levels, which is why starting the day with some protein in your breakfast is a great idea.
So how do you make all this happen?
Ask yourself where your protein is coming from when you're shopping or cooking?
Make sure you're eating a wide variety of protein sources from nuts and beans to fish and beef.
And make sure you're eating enough compared to other components in your meal i.e. your protein serving should be the size of your palm i.e. a fillet of fish
The way I like to build a plate of food is fill it with green leafy veg, add a decent serving of protein, a fist size serving of complex carbs and a dollop of healthy fats like avocado, nuts, tahini, nut butters, olive oil
Good sources of protein: lean meat, fish, eggs, dairy, tofu, beans, lentils, legumes, nuts, seeds, nut butters, quinoa, buckwheat, tempeh, seitan.
And most importantly enjoy it. Protein is delicious and there are so many ways to make it taste incredible. x