What Protein Does for Your Body and Why You Should Eat More
If you’re looking to improve your health, fitness and overall wellbeing, then you should make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet!
Protein is an essential macronutrient that the body needs to function properly. It is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of tissues and organs in the body. Protein plays several important roles in the body, including building and repairing tissues, producing enzymes and hormones, and transporting nutrients.
What protein does for your body
If you’re staying on top of your health by keeping an eye on your calories, sugar, and salt intake, don’t forget to pay attention to your protein consumption as well! Protein is essential for creating and maintaining every cell in your body, fuelling your cells, and powering your body.
Protein is composed of amino acids, which are referred to as “building blocks” because they are connected in long chains. It’s also classified as a “macronutrient,” meaning that you need relatively large amounts of it to maintain good health.
Protein is important for many bodily functions, including:
- Tissue growth and repair: Protein is an essential building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, and skin. Protein can also help repair and rebuild muscle fibres, which can lead to improved muscle strength and endurance. This is particularly important for athletes and people who engage in regular physical activity.
- Weight loss and management: Protein is more satiating than carbohydrates or fats, which means it can help to keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer periods of time. This can help to reduce overall calorie intake and promote weight loss.
- Improved bone health: Protein helps to build and maintain bone density, which is crucial for preventing osteoporosis and bone fractures.
- Healthy digestion: Roughly half of the dietary protein you consume each day is utilised to produce enzymes, which assist with digestion and create new cells and body chemicals.
- Nutrient absorption: Red blood cells are made up of a protein compound that carries oxygen throughout your body. This is how your entire body is supplied with the nutrients it needs.
- Hormone regulation: Protein is a key player in hormone regulation, particularly during puberty when cells are transforming and developing.
Sources of protein
There are many sources of protein, including both animal and plant-based foods. Some of the top sources of protein include:
- Meat, poultry, and fish
- Eggs and dairy products
- Beans, lentils, and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
- Soy products
- Protein supplements
It’s important to choose a variety of protein sources to ensure that you are getting all of the essential amino acids that your body needs.
How much protein should you eat?
The recommended daily intake of protein varies depending on factors such as age, gender, and activity level. The general guideline for adults is to consume 0.8-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
However, athletes and people who engage in regular physical activity may require more protein to support muscle growth and repair. If you’re looking to change your body composition by losing fat and gaining muscle, try to increase your protein intake to about 1.2-2.2 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight daily.
Tips for Incorporating More Protein into Your Diet
If you’re looking to eat more protein, here are a few tips to help you get started:
Start your day with protein: Consider adding eggs, Greek yogurt, or a protein shake to your daily breakfast.
Pack protein-rich snacks: Keep a stash of protein bars, jerky, nuts or greek yoghurt on hand for when hunger strikes.
Add protein to your meals: Incorporate more meat, fish, tofu, or legumes into your meals.
Experiment with new recipes: Try new recipes that include protein-rich ingredients like quinoa, edamame, or chickpeas. You could also try substituting regular pasta for protein-rich pulse pasta varieties made from legumes.
- Track your macros: Using a tracking app like MyFitnessPal to track your macros can be helpful in determining the amount of protein you consume. Set a protein goal and ensure that you reach your target each day. As you get used to consuming sufficient protein, you may no longer need to track your intake.
Protein is an essential nutrient that plays many important roles in the body. By incorporating more protein into your diet, you can reap many health benefits, including improved muscle growth and repair, weight loss and management, improved bone health, and more. So, try adding more protein to your meals and snacks, and see how your body responds!