WHAT IS IT?
Protein is a building block for muscles, tissues, organs, and immune system in the body.
Your body uses protein to make hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to every part of your body. Proteins are used to rebuild muscles that have been stressed or torn during heavy weight lifting.
Protein is made up of amino acids. There are 22 amino acids, of which 9 are considered essential, which means your have to get it from food because your body cannot make them. Essential because it’s essential that you get them from the foods you eat.
Protein from animal sources are considered complete proteins because the have all of the essential amino acids. Most vegetable protein (nuts, seeds, grains, beans, vegetables, peas) is incomplete because it’s missing one or more of the essential amino acids. Soy beans are the only complete vegetable protein. As long as you eat a variety of protein sources during the day, you will get all of the protein you need for a healthy body.
Recent research has shown that diets with more protein (up to 30% of total calories) assist in blood sugar control and weight management. This is probably due to the fact that protein helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, and is very satisfying, leaving you fuller for longer.
WHERE DO I GET IT?
The best protein sources are those that have minimal saturated fat, yet are rich in monounsaturated or Omega 3 fats. Fish, skinless poultry breast, very lean beef and pork, eggs, nonfat dairy, nuts, nut butters, tofu, soy beans, beans, and lentils. Try to stay away from fatty meats, like bacon, sausage, hot dogs, greasy hamburgers, fried chicken, fried fish, mayo-rich tuna salad, high fat cheeses, whole milk and yogurt. These are full of artery-clogging, waist-expanding saturated and trans fat.
HOW MUCH DO I NEED?
The general rule is about .5 grams of protein per pound of weight. If you weight 150 lbs, then you need roughly 75 grams of protein a day. There are always some exceptions to this rule. People with kidney and liver disease need significantly less protein. Body builders need significantly more.