Protein is found in every cell in your body, where it is used for repair, maintenance and new growth of cells. It also makes up a major part of your skin, muscles, organs and glands. Better still, as a slow-burning fuel protein takes a while to digest, which means eating protein helps you to feel full longer, helping with weight control.
Ensuring you’re getting adequate protein is important for your health, but it’s not as simple as it may seem. Not all protein sources are created equal, for starters, and there is some confusion over how much protein is best.
Following are seven simple tips to follow to get the right amount of protein in your daily diet – from all the best sources.
1. Focus on Essential Proteins
There are nine essential amino acids that you must get via your diet, as your body does not make them on its own. Foods that supply all of the essential amino acids used to be called ‘complete’ proteins, while those that do not were called ‘incomplete’ proteins. While these terms aren’t widely used anymore, you should still focus on protein sources that supply all the essential amino acids (such as whey protein, lean meats, eggs and cheese).
2. Try to Eat 46-56 Grams a Day
Depending on your health and activity level, protein should make up about 10-35 percent of your daily calories. For most people this equates to between 46 and 56 grams a day.
3. You Don’t Need to Worry About Balancing Proteins
Complementary proteins used to describe two incomplete proteins that together provided all of the essential amino acids. It used to be thought that you had to eat complementary proteins at the same meal to count as a complete protein source – but this has been disproven. What’s more important is making sure you are eating all nine essential amino acids each and every day.
4. Animal Proteins are More Bioavailable
Proteins from animal foods are most easily absorbed and utilized by your body. So while you can still get protein from plant foods, eating 20 grams of protein from eggs will provide your body with more protein than 20 grams from a plant-based source.
5. There are Great Plant-Based Proteins
Plant-based proteins make a great addition to animal-based proteins. Some to consider include legumes (beans and peas), quinoa, nuts and seeds.
6. Consider Whey Protein
If you’re not sure you’re eating enough protein, whey protein, which is a byproduct of the cheese manufacturing process, is an excellent choice to supplement your diet. Whey protein contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs and may support immune function by increasing levels of the powerful antioxidant glutathione.
Because quality can vary, look for a whey protein from a brand you trust, such as CNCA’s Whey Pure Protein, which is made from milk harvested from cows that graze on pesticide-free and chemical-free natural grass pastures in New Zealand
7. Protein is Thermogenic
A thermogenic food is one that burns calories as it’s digested. Protein has a greater thermogenic effect than carbohydrates. As the Cleveland Clinic put it:
“Think of it [eating protein] as giving your digestive system a good, hard run.”