Many of us are getting protein into our diets without realizing it, but are we getting enough?
According to the Institute of Medicine, the daily recommended intake for an adult is a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. This number could increase if you workout frequently and are looking to lose fat or gain muscle.
Timing is important!
It’s important to consume protein immediately after a workout. If you want more information on eating it in order to gain lean muscle and lose stubborn fat, read this article. Do it only after you’re done reading about protein here, though! Nutrient timing is important, and this is why it is recommended right after your exercise routine. For those who find it hard to get enough protein in their diet, protein powder is a great alternative that saves time, energy, and sometimes money.
At 4 calories a gram, protein provides amino acids. These are what your body needs to recover after a workout and build muscle. In fact, it takes up about 15% of a person’s total body weight. That makes protein a pretty big requirement in our lives. According to Jessica Crandall, a registered dietitian nutritionist, when protein is broken down in the body it helps to fuel muscle mass, which helps metabolism. It also helps the immune system stay strong, helps you stay full, and research has shown that it has satiety effects. This means that it can keep you feeling fuller for longer.
It goes without saying, there are so many sources of protein, I couldn’t possibly name them all. However, only you know what makes you feel healthy and helps you work optimally. There is much debate on whether meat is healthier or less healthy than plant-based alternatives. This article will not go in-depth on that matter.
I believe it is important to eat what helps your body function optimally, while also thinking about how your diet may impact the environment.
Now for a little science…
Did you know you can burn calories in the process of eating and digesting your food, alone?
The Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) happens when you ingest protein because your body has to work hard to chew and digest it. The general formula for this is to multiply your total calories by 10%. So, if you were to eat 3,000 calories, you would burn 300 calories by simply sitting back and letting your body work the calories off on its own.
This is not to say you should rely on this as a weight-loss method. Your TEF can be affected by the following factors: your age, exercise, caloric content of food, macronutrient ratio (More protein = higher TEF / More fat = lower TEF), and the overall quality of your diet.
What people imagine when they think of protein…
What protein can be…
An easy Avocado toast with veggies on top can offer tons of health benefits, but more importantly, 4.02g of protein per 1 medium avocado.
This super-filling Stewed Chickpea meal can be made in many different ways, but this one is my favorite! Chickpeas have a whopping 14.53g of protein per cup!
My favorite recipes are those that require minimal ingredients.
This 5-Ingredient Green Curry is full of broccoli and tofu – Broccoli containing 4.28g per 1 stalk and Tofu containing 8g of protein per 100g serving.
Let’s break it down
Protein is broken down into amino acids. Amino acids are what we really need to help build muscle, repair body tissue, and break down food. Animal proteins offer complete amino acids, while plant-based ones do not. Complete proteins contain all the essential amino acids necessary for your body to function properly. Incomplete ones, such as beans, lentils, and nuts lack one or more of the essential amino acids your body needs.
If you don’t eat a lot of complete proteins, you may want to think about supplementing with vitamins such as B-12 and Zinc to make sure you’ve covered all your bases. B-12 is one of the most effective solutions to support healthy energy levels and balance your metabolism, mental health, and mood. Zinc is essential to the immune system, so the last thing you want is to run low. Luckily, the body sucks up bioavailable zinc sulfate like a vacuum, which is found in supplements or in meat.
We’re only able to scratch the surface of this topic, and there is still so much we could cover. Protein increases satiety, comes in both animal and plant-based forms. It contains vital amino acids necessary for your body’s recovery. Show us or tell us about your favorite protein-packed meal! We’d love to hear from you!
Chelsea has been active most of her life, which led her to become a Personal Trainer and Yoga Instructor for the past 7 years. Health and Fitness are not solely dependent on movement, though. With that understanding, she addresses her client’s other needs, such as diet, mindfulness, and stress management.
When she is not training clients or teaching Yoga, she is finding new activities that keep her mind and body active. These are things such as hiking, photography, listening to podcasts, or playing video games. She is constantly working toward finding natural solutions to live a balanced lifestyle, inclusive Yoga for all body types, and aiming to find mindfulness in everything she does.