Protein is extremely important for your daily health. Your body needs protein for growth and repair of bodily tissues, formation of components necessary for bodily functions, and for energy.
Protein is comprised of amino acids, and there are 21 of them. Four of them are non-essential amino acids, which means the body can manufacture them itself. Eight of them are conditionally essential, meaning the body makes them in times of need (i.e. illness) but may not be able to make enough, which means they will need to be derived from your diet. The remaining 9 amino acids are essential meaning that the body can not make them for itself so they need to be obtained from the diet.
Many of us do not consume enough protein to sustain our bodies needs. As a guideline individual Protein consumption should take up an absolute minimum of 10% of your daily calories, or about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. That said protein consumption requirements will increase as the demand to your body increases.
-Protein is also important for the fat loss process. These are some of the great reasons why:
-Protein is muscle sparing, meaning that without enough protein, the body will begin to break down muscles, instead of burn fat.
-Protein is satiating, which means it provides a feeling of fullness because it takes longer for the body to break it down.
-Protein helps manage blood sugar and insulin.
-Protein is also much less likely to be stored as fat in the body.
Now contrary to popular belief, steak is not the only option for your protein consumption needs. There are the obvious animal derived proteins, which are higher in saturated fats (the not so good kind), but they contain all of the 9 essential amino acids. These include: Beef, Chicken, Pork, Bison, Turkey, Fish, etc., and their counter parts; eggs, yogurt, cheese etc.
There are several other options of protein that most people tend to overlook. They are often viewed as “vegetarian” or “vegan” options, but these are great ways to mixed up your protein content without overdoing the saturated fat, and while adding fiber and other micronutrients. The only problem with “vegetarian” protein options is that most of them are not complete proteins, meaning they do not contain the 9 essential amino acids. This means you may have to get a little creative and mix some items together, like beans and rice. This is only a small list, but it gives you an idea of the options available to you. Items like legumes, tempeh, tofu, quinoa, lentils, oats, nuts and nut butters (watch the fat content), seeds, amaranth, wheat germ, seitan, rice and beans, soy, nutritional yeast, spirulina, hummus and so much more.
There are also the less conventional options for protein such as protein supplement powders and bars. As we always say eating the real thing is best, but these supplements work in a pinch.
Remember to very your options and to insure that you are consuming enough protein. If you are unsure you can always check in with your doctor or dietitian.
Macdonald, Rod. Canfitpro: Healthy Eating and Weight Loss Coach: The Essential Resource for the canfitpro healthy eating and weight loss coach certification. 2013.
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