Do you know why it is important for your to get enough protein in your diet? Proteins are basically essential nutrients that your body requires. Not only is it necessary for muscle growth but it is also a requirement for healthy skin, bones, hair, nails and so on. You find them in virtually every process occurring within your body’s cells. It can even serve as a fuel source providing much needed energy to a complex engine when necessary.
If we look at proteins in more detail you find they are constructed from various types and sizes of Amino Acid chains. There are a total of 20 different amino acids of which 9 are considered “essential” to the human body. (Essential in this context means your body can not produce these particular ones on its own and must therefore locate them from an outside source.) Most plants and tiny organisms can synthesize all required amino acids but animals such as humans must consume the ones they can not produce in order to meet minimum body requirements.
What are your options for protein?
We get much of our needed protein from red meats, pork, poultry, eggs, dairy and seafood. However, alternate sources for vegetarians exist such as beans, peas, tofu, pasta, nuts and seeds. In addition, if you find that you are simply unable to get enough during your busy schedule you may want to consider some form of protein supplement. They usually come in a pill or powder form and can easily help you reach your target intake levels.
Are all protein sources created equal?
Unfortunately not. Some sources of protein are more complete with a wide range of amino acids. While you certainly want to vary the type as much as possible it is best to ensure you are getting what your body requires. Normally, animal sources tend to have all the essential amino acids that we require while plants and nuts do not. It is especially important for vegetarians to take note of this fact as they must ensure they are consuming the correct pieces of the puzzle on a daily basis.
Furthermore, unless your taking a tailor made supplement, you must have a keen awareness of what else you are consuming along with your protein dish. You’re generally going to want lean meats, chicken, fish and eggs. Cholesterol from eggs is really a non issue and has been blown way out of proportion by the media. However, too much salt, sugars and saturated fats could give you some trouble. They will exist in most sources of course but will be heavily utilized in processed foods, the sauces you add to your meals and finally the way you choose to cook.
How Much Protein Do You Actually Need?
The answer depends on several factors including your age, sex, activity level and goals.
Generally, you want to get at least 8 grams of protein per day for every 20 pounds of body weight. In addition, you want a range of between 10% to 35% of your total caloric intake per day.
Take note that:
1 gram of Protein = 4 calories
1 gram of Carboyhydrates = 4 calories
1 gram of Fat = 9 calories
Therefore, for a 2000 a day calorie diet with a ratio of 25% protein, 30% fat and 45% carbs you would be looking at 125g protein, 66.66g fat, 225g carbs each day.
There is some debate as to whether you can have too much protein in a day as apparently this could affect your liver process but this still remains largely unproven. On the other hand though, you can certainly get too little which is quite common for a lot of women in our day and age.
Just remember that proteins are very important for everyone, at every stage in life and not just for body builders. So make sure you do get enough throughout the day in order to stay healthy.