What is Protein?
Protein is the building blocks for our bodies. This is the raw material that makes up our cells and organs. A quarter of our body is made up of protein. See protein is pertinent for development and growth along with increasing muscle strength, repairing tissues, making hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters and antibodies to help fight diseases.
Proteins are molecules that consist of amino acids. These amino acids are required for absorption by the body when proteins are digested. There are 25 known amino acids but only 8 are essential and must be obtained by food. FYI- if one of these amino acids is lacking or missing in ones diet then the effectiveness of the other seven amino acids will be reduced.
What is your body's protein requirements?
There are health guidelines and formulas for this. The best way to break this down is to advise 15-20 percent of person's calorie intake should be protein or about 1/4 oz of protein for every 20 lbs of your body weight unless there is an ailment or health issue that requires a different recommendation such as kidney failure, COPD, PCOS, Cancer, Heart disease etc. So this is based on someone that is healthy with no known health concerns or issues.
Also remember that the quality of protein will affect how much should be consumed too. Balance of protein is important because excess is turned into glucose which is energy but it then turns into fat. Other issues if protein intake isn't balanced is kidney problems, loss of minerals from bones and high blood pressure.
What do you mean by quality of protein?
The quality of protein in one's diet is as important as the quantity. Knowing the difference can help balance one's essential amino acids. Proteins found in animal derived foods such as meats, poultry, seafood, eggs and cheese can provide a balance of the necessary amino acids. Again caution is required because to much can contribute to high calories then excess fat. The other proteins not mentioned yet are proteins from plants such as seeds, nuts, lentils, beans, and grains. The plant proteins have many vitamins and minerals but can lack in certain necessary amino acids. Plant proteins are needed and in a lot of ways much better for us overall.
As you can see balancing protein intake from both animal derived foods and plant based foods will help keep those 8 amino acids in balance among various other necessary nutrients our bodies need.
Examples of animal proteins-
Following will provide 1 oz of protein-
3 1/2 oz of skinless chicken breast
1 3/4 oz cod
4 strips of lean bacon
4 oz cheddar cheese
2 cups of milk
Healthier choices would include lower fat options such as fish and cottage cheese etc., plus organic meats are preferable as they are free of inject-able hormones, antibiotics and pesticides. Again a varied diet of dairy and vegetables is preferable because of the saturated fats one will get when consuming animal derived meats.
**Side note- American Heart association recommends no more than 8-9 serves per week which they advise 3 oz is a serving size and USDA advises that a serving size for lean meats is 5.5 oz-- all based on lean or extra lean and skinless options. There are some sources that say only 3 times serve sizes per week of animal derived protein should be consumed. Now this does not include plant based proteins. So as you can see there are numerous recommendations but there are a lot of variables to a person's recommended animal derived protein
Examples of plant proteins-
Following will provide 1 oz of protein-
20 oz brown rice
13 1/2 oz tofu
3 1/2 oz pumpkin seeds
4 large potatoes
30 oz broccoli
Many of the plant based proteins are incomplete but they are lower in fat and high in beneficial complex carbohydrates which makes them a healthier options in a lot of other ways. Even through many of them are incomplete proteins, a combination of plant proteins can make them more complete. SO if you are a vegetarian there's no need to worry as long as you are combining foods and vary your foods daily it should provide an adequate and balanced intake of proteins.
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