The Importance Of Protein In Your Diet
More often than not I have to emphasize the importance of protein in my client’s diet, which is why I decided to write a blog post about it. Protein is actually one of the most important parts of a healthy diet. It seems to me that many people nowadays are still under the impression that protein is going to make us ‘bulky’. This is in no way true what so ever! Did you know that protein is a component of every single cell in your body and is used to build and repair bones and tissue?
Eating too little can result in:
- Low energy levels
- A sluggish metabolism
- Food cravings
- Trouble losing weight loss
- Trouble building muscle
- A low immune system
- Slow wound healing
- Poor concentration
- Muscle, bone and joint problems
- Blood sugar challenges
- Feeling hungry 1-2 hours after a meal
Complete & Incomplete Protein Sources
Protein foods are broken down into parts called amino acids during digestion. The human body needs a number of amino acids in large enough amounts to maintain good health. The body is able to make some amino acids, but the rest must be obtained through your diet.
There are 20 amino acids, 9 of these are considered “essential” meaning they need to be consumed on a daily basis because the body isn’t capable of making it ourselves. All other amino acids are “non-essential” because the body is able to create them by synthesizing other amino acids. You need protein in your diet for healthy human function, especially to help repair cells and make new ones.
Complete protein sources come from animal products such as meat, fish, eggs and some vegetarian sources such as soy products (tofu, tempeh). Incomplete protein source includes nuts, seeds, whole grain, beans, legumes.
Here are a few reasons why protein is essential for great health:
- Helps to build a strong immune system
- Helps to speed up the metabolism, helping to build lean muscle mass
- Helps to stabilize blood sugar levels
- Supports high energy levels
- Keeps you satiated between meals
- It’s important for growth and development (think healthy blood, muscles, hair, nails, and skin)
- Provides structure for cells, supporting muscles, tendons,
- Important for enzyme function
- Messenger protein transmits signals to coordinate biological processes between different cells, tissues, and organs.
Enjoy exploring additional ways to get your healthy dose of protein each day. I am a huge supporter of ethically and sustainably sourcing meat and enjoying it in healthy moderation. You can also do it in an easily digestible way – such as drinking it! There are lots of protein powders on the market but often they contain added sugar and nasties. My personal favourite is Nuzest Clean Lean Protein. I have been using this every day for years now. I find it a really simple and easy way to bump up the protein content in my diet. I also love the taste of it and use it as a natural sweetener in my morning smoothie or porridge.
I personally have quite a high protein diet. I am an active person exercising 5-6 day a week, lead a busy lifestyle, and I used to suffer from a low immune system and food cravings. Ensuring I get enough protein into my diet is vital for me if I want to support my energy requirements and feel satiated and energized throughout the day.
Animal protein – organic or free-range chicken, beef, lamb, fish, seafood, eggs
Vegetarian protein – tofu, tempeh, beans, legumes, edamame, soy, nuts, seeds, nut butter, quinoa
Dairy protein – cottage cheese, yoghurt, cheese
When consuming only vegetarian sources of protein such as nuts and seeds, grains, legumes it’s a good idea to combine two of these together in a meal (i.e. brown rice with chickpeas, or oats with nuts and seeds) to ensure you are getting a complete protein source to reap all the wonderful benefits of consuming adequate protein. This isn’t essential, but it can be something to consider when trying to increase your protein intake.
How to get more protein into your diet:
- Add a handful of nuts and seeds to your breakfast meal
- Enjoy a couple tablespoons of peanut or almond butter with a piece of fruit or on brown rice crackers
- Have a palm size piece of meat with lunch and dinner
- Add ½ -1 cup of quinoa, beans, legumes to lunch and dinner
- Sprinkle nuts and seeds on top of vegetable and/or a grain salad
- Enjoy a tofu or tempeh stir-fry
- Add 1 serving of protein powder to a smoothie or porridge
If you would like specific meal ideas or some dietary guidelines to follow please get in touch with me today. I will put together a personalized plan for you to help you reach and achieve your wellness goals, whether that is to increase protein in your diet, increase energy levels, lose weight, stop sugar cravings or just improve your overall wellness through diet and lifestyle choices.
Email me today to book an appointment: [email protected] or give me a call on 0211264274 .
Hi I’m Natalie, a Registered Clinical Nutritionist, health influencer, blog writer & recipe creator. My own health complications prompted me to make positive diet & lifestyle changes, revitalize my health leading to a career change from the corporate world to nutritional medicine. I believe in a wholefoods approach to good health, focusing on simple strategies for modern, busy people.