It’s not rocket science – whether you’re a meat lover or a pure vegetarian, protein is an essential constituent of our daily diet. Unlike fat, which is stored and can be used for later, protein needs to be consumed on a daily basis, because the body cannot store it; all the more reason to get the right amount of protein every day.
Learn more about this crucial nutrient and how you can get more of it, without necessarily following a strict protein diet.
1. Protein gives the body structure. Your muscles and tissues rely on protein for growth and repair. Protein also controls metabolism, regulates your hormones and helps with resistance. The secret behind strong and healthy bones, hair, teeth, nails, muscles, tissues and organs is actually adequate protein intake, of course coupled with hydration and vitamins. (You definitely want more protein in your diet now, right?)
2. Amino acids make up proteins. Amino acids are a household term when proteins are of topic. That’s because these are actually smaller units that consist of oxyzen, nitrogen, hydrogen and carbon atoms, which all in turn make up the body’s building blocks. Amino acids may be obtained from the protein intake in one’s daily diet, but there are also amino acid supplements for others with heightened protein needs.
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3. When protein is digested, nitrogen is a waste product. This is filtered by the kidneys, and excreted in urine. For instance, eggs are a food item biologically rich in protein. When it is digested, about 48 percent of its protein is used by the body, and the other part of it is turned to calories for storage, and the rest is nitrogen waste. This is why protein is discouraged when one has a kidney disorder.
>> Here are 12 lunches that are packed with protein!
4. Not enough protein can be destructive to the body. Because protein cannot be stored, whatever we eat gets used up every day, so we will need to replenish the nutrients in our body regularly. When there’s not enough protein to use, the body will need to “eat” itself for the amino acid requirements. When this happens, immunity goes down and we become weaker.
5. Most dietary protein is burned as calories. Just because a food item has x amount of protein doesn’t mean you’ll get x amount to utilize. A huge percentage actually becomes calories, which is why upping your protein content is always good.
How can you get a good source of protein into your diet? Check out the next page!
Unless you're an athlete or a person with increased protein needs, you can rely on daily table food for your protein consumption and not necessarily start taking protein powders and supplements. Here are ways you can enjoy protein-rich foods and benefit from them every day:
1. Be mighty with meat! Meat really is the best source of protein: red meat, poultry, and fish are your best choices. Naturally, you would need to pick out the leaner cuts so that you’ll have more protein but not as much fats. Instead of preserved meats, go for fresh and lean meat cuts such as chicken breast over thighs or brown meat. Try out this Skinny Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe. It's got 44 grams of protein!
2. Egg and milk come next. If you aren’t a hefty meat eater, do your muscles a favor by consuming eggs regularly. They are versatile as far as preparation is concerned, and they really do taste great with other foods. Your bones will love you for drinking milk and consuming enough dairy products as well on a daily basis. Yoghurt and cheese are great to incorporate in your daily diet. Make yourself a protein smoothie with bananas, protein-rich yoghurt and some added fiber rich foods and you’re good to go.
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3. It’s okay to be nutty. Protein consumption may be an issue for those who are trying to cut back on meat because of fats. If you’re trying out the wholesome way to eat, then you’re in luck. Snack on nuts as often as you can. They are oozing with friendly fats that are good for your heart and brain, they have lots of fiber for digestion, and best of all, they contain high levels of protein. That’s why peanut butter is a staple in a household with growing children. Peanut butter contains a lot of protein that’s good for those growing bodies. We love to make PB & J Sushi for the kids (and ourselves)!
4. Legumes and soy. For vegetarians, soy is the richest source of protein. Beans and legumes are pretty versatile, so they go well with meats or on their own. Try our our Bean and Bulgur Salad, a high-protein vegetarian meal.
5. Mind your veggies. While greens seem like a huge contradiction to those red meats, they too can be wonderful sources of daily protein. Artichokes, asparagus, alfalfa, avocados, broccoli, mushrooms and especially spinach are easily prepared because they are versatile, so they should be great ways to up your protein intake for lunch or dinner.