Protein packs quite a powerful punch when it comes to your diet. It’s an important part of each cell housed in your body. Both your nails and hair are created of mostly protein, and your body uses protein in order to build and repair tissue found throughout your system. Protein is needed for the creation of a variety of body chemicals such as hormones and enzymes. When it comes to the building and strengthening of skin, bones, muscle and blood, protein is one of the most important components.
The body needs quite large amounts of protein, as well as certain fats and carbohydrates. These are referred to as macronutrients, where as vitamins and minerals are micronutrients due to the relatively smaller amounts needed.
While your body can create “storage” of fats and carbs, the same can’t be said for proteins. This means that when your body needs access to protein, it requires you to consume some sort of protein source. This doesn’t mean eating a continual source of protein, all day every day, is the answer to this need. Our body’s requirement for protein may be less than you think, so you might want to read on to get a better understanding of protein, our body’s need for it and some ideas how to get the right amount.
How Much Protein Is Enough?
Some people have been known to say that the consumption of extra protein will result in the production of more muscle. The truth of the matter is the only way to create muscle is by exercising. Consuming extra protein will not result in you automatically having extra strength. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers these guidelines:
- Three daily servings, or a total of seven ounces of protein is all that teenage boys and active men require.
- Most women, some elderly people and children aged 2 to 6 need only consume two daily servings of protein. This is the equivalent of five ounces.
- For older children, teenage girls, active women, and most men the guidelines recommend two daily servings, or the equivalent of six ounces or protein.
The different types of protein you include in your diet can have a determining role in overall health, as well as how successful your weight loss efforts are. It’s not recommended to consume large quantities of processed meats for your protein sources. These have been linked to many health issues such as increased risks of heart disease, colon cancer and Type 2 diabetes. Processed meats can also make it more difficult for you to successfully lose weight, and maintain your weight loss goals.
A variety of nutrition experts have given their recommendations for dietary protein sources. They include:
- Fish: offers not only protein but heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and normally less fat than meat.
- Poultry: This is a great source of protein, and you can eliminate most of the saturated fat by removing the skin.
- Beans: Beans can provide you with more protein than any other vegetable source. They are also high in fiber which helps your digestion, and also keeps you feeling full for a longer period of time.
- Nuts: One ounce of almonds can provide you with almost as much protein as one ounce of broiled steak with little to no fat content (i.e. ribeye).
- Whole grains: One slice of whole wheat bread gives you not only 3 grams of protein, but is also a valuable source of fiber. The more whole grains included in your choice of bread, the higher these values normally are.
So if you decide to cut back on your carbohydrate intake, or just be choosier when you decide on what protein to consume don’t lose track of the big picture. Cutting out ALL carbs isn’t necessary. Choosing the right ones, along with appropriate servings and types of protein can make the best difference possible.