What are Proteins?
Proteins are important nutrients that contain the essential and non-essential amino acids which provide the body with energy.
Proteins are the basic building blocks of matter responsible for muscle growth and development, bones, ligaments and tissue. They also help to fight infections because they strengthen the immune system and are essential for maintaining body functions such as digestion, metabolism and circulation.
Why we need protein?
Here are five compelling reasons why you should make sure you are getting enough protein every day:
- Build. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage and skin. In fact, your hair and nails are comprised mostly of protein.
- Repair. Your body uses it to build and repair tissue.
- Oxygenate. Red blood cells contain a protein compound that carries oxygen throughout the body. This helps supply your entire body with the nutrients it needs.
- Digest. About half the dietary protein that you consume each day goes into making enzymes, which aids in digesting food, and making new cells and body chemicals.
- Regulate. Protein plays an important role in hormone regulation, especially during the transformation and development of cells during puberty.
In addition, Protein helps you maintain a healthy appetite. Protein plays an important role in keeping hunger at a healthy level. Out of the three macronutrients : protein, fat, and carbohydrates – protein is the most filling, leaving you feeling more satisfied.
How protein can help you stay in shape
Eating high-protein foods has many fitness benefits, including:
- Speeding recovery after exercise and/or injury
- Reducing muscle loss
- Building lean muscle
- Helping maintain a healthy weight
- Curbing hunger
Protein deficiency can cause:
- Weakness and fatigue
- Hormone imbalances
- In adults, loss of muscle mass
- In children, growth deficits
- Skin, hair and nail problems
- Impaired immune function or slow-healing injuries
- Edema (swelling) due to fluid retention
- Fatty Liver
- Risk of bone fracture
Average Protein Intake
The average sedentary man should eat about 56 grams of protein per day, and the average woman should eat about 46 grams . Children aged 1-8 should eat about 16 grams and children aged 9-13 should eat about 34 grams .
Excessive consumption may also cause digestive problems, such as:
Sources of Protein
- Lean meats and poultry
- Legumes, which include beans and peas
- Soy products
- Low fat cheese
- Low fat milk
- Peanut Butter (fat free)
Here are some suggestions for adding more protein to diet:
- Replace regular snacks with high protein snacks, such as nuts, roasted chickpeas, and peanut butter.
- Add beans and peas to soups, side dishes, or salads. These also make great main dishes.
- Include one high protein food with each meal.
- Replace a source of carbohydrate with a source of protein, such as swapping out a piece of toast for an egg in the morning.
- Before adding protein bars to the diet, check the labels, as they can be high in sugar.