Confusion about protein abounds:
Protein: Your Secret Weight-Loss Weapon. You need more!”
Australians eat too much protein! Limit your intake.”
There is no doubt about it; the subject of protein is everywhere you look today. How much protein do we really need?
With all the Low-Carb, Paleo and Clean eating ideas currently being promoted everywhere from Facebook, to Pinterest to best-selling books, you’d think we would have learned the place of protein in our diet. I wanted to know more, so I went looking for some answers. I was a little surprised by some.
What is protein?
A protein is a nutrient, consisting of chemicals called amino acids. There are 20 standard amino acids that are essential to every cell function within our bodies. Protein is used in building, maintaining and repairing body tissues. Your skin, internal organs and muscles all need protein for good health. Protein is a major component of your immune system and hormones.
Our cleverly designed body can make 11 of these amino acids all on its own, but the other nine we must obtain from what we eat. Proteins can be found in both animal and plant foods.
According to Better Health (Vic) most Australians obtain their protein requirements from:
•meat, poultry and fish – 33%
•cereals and cereal-based foods – 25%
•dairy foods and products – 16%
•vegetables – 8%
So, how much protein do we need?
The recommended daily requirement (RDI) for Australian adults is anywhere from 46 grams per day upwards to 81 grams. Your total requirement depends on your gender and age and whether or not you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you are a heavy exerciser or work with weights, your protein needs will also increase. If you need to lose weight, you might also wish to increase the amount of protein in your diet.
Protein has been shown to help prevent obesity, osteoporosis, and diabetes. Research from John Hopkins University found that if you increased your protein intake from lean protein sources to roughly a quarter of your calories, you would reduce your blood pressure, LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and triglycerides levels.
Nutrition Metabolism published a study in which dieters increased their protein intake to 30 percent of their diet. These dieters ate 450 fewer calories a day and lost about five kilos over the 12-week study without employing any other dietary measures. Impressive.
Protein helps you lose fat, not muscle. The amino acids in protein help to build lean muscle, making you stronger and more toned. And more muscle means more calories burned even when you are not active.
Studies have found that a protein-rich breakfast can help regulate your appetite all day. Breakfast is a great time to include 30 grams of protein, which you can get from 2 eggs and a cup of cottage cheese. After fasting all night, your body is running on empty and might start burning muscle for fuel unless you break the fast with some great protein sources.
As Trim Healthy Mama’s, we know the importance of centering all our meals on protein, not just breakfast, helping us to stay trim and healthy. Whole foods are a great source of healthy and cheap protein, but sometimes we need something quick to grab as we run out the door, and this is where protein shakes come in handy. Many of these shakes contain Whey Protein Powder.
How do I choose a suitable protein powder for Trim Healthy Mama?
Serene Alison, author of the book Trim Healthy Mama, has written in great depth about Whey Protein powder and how to choose a good brand. You will find her information in the following four articles on Protein.