Protein happens to be one of the most versatile of all nutrients with many responsibilities in supporting your overall health. Most of us associate protein with maintaining healthy muscles, but protein is an important component of every cell, tissue and organ in the body. Protein supports your bones, brain cells, blood, skin, hair and finger nails. It supplies valuable enzymes that help regulate bodily functions. It acts as a “bus driver” transporting nutrients, oxygen and waste throughout the body. Protein is important for growth and maintenance of so many parts of your body.
One of the most immediate sensations you experience from eating protein, besides the satisfying flavours, is its ability to satiate your appetite. High-protein foods slow the movement of food from the stomach to the intestine. Slower digestion means you feel full for a longer period of time. Also, combining carbohydrate foods with protein provides a steadying effect on your blood sugar, which prevents a steep rise in blood sugar followed by a quick dive that can trigger hunger. For example, apples and peanut butter, dried fruit and nuts, cheese and crackers, or steak and potatoes are great combinations of foods with carbohydrate and protein.
Here’s a guide for how much protein you need each day:
* Sedentary Adult. Weight in pounds x 0.4* = grams of protein/day
* Physically Active Adult. Weight in pounds x 0.5-0.75 = grams of protein/day
* Competitive Adult Athlete. Weight in pounds x 0.6-0.9 = grams of protein/day
* Adult Building Muscle. Weight in pounds x 0.7-1.0 = grams of protein/day
* Recommended protein amounts per pound adapted from “Sports Nutrition: A Guide for the Professional Working with Active People.”
When choosing protein-rich foods, pay attention to what comes along with the protein. Vegetable sources of protein, such as beans, nuts and whole grains, are excellent choices because they also offer fibre, vitamins and minerals. The best animal protein choices are fish, poultry and lean cuts of grass-fed red meat. We have become accustomed too much larger portions of animal protein than we actually need. You may be surprised to hear that a healthy portion of red meat and poultry is about the size of the palm of your hand. Animal protein does contain saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, so it is best to consume more moderate portions and alternate it with vegetable proteins.
Of course, all these options are great until you try to take them on the go. A protein snack between meals curbs hunger, which helps you make more nutritious food choices. Throwing a steak into your purse for a quick snack is less than ideal and hardly appetising. When your everyday foods aren’t available or convenient, look to portable protein sources, such as Sportyfood.
Protein has earned its rightful position as a powerful nutrient for wellness. Understanding what protein does for you and how much you need will help you make better choices when it comes to replenishing, recovering and recharging your body each day.