Protein is a macronutrient that is important in building muscle mass. This nutrient is mostly found in animal products even though it also exists in other non-animal sources such as legumes and nuts. A gram of protein contains four calories. Furthermore, protein constitutes about 15% of a person’s body weight.
The chemical composition of protein is amino acids. Amino acids are organic compounds consisting of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen or sulfur. They are the unit blocks that build proteins. When protein breaks down within the body, it helps in fueling muscle mass and this helps with metabolism and keeping your blood pressure down. Far from helping you stay full, it also helps the immune system stay strong. Two studies proved that feeling full after a meal improved after consumption of a high protein snack. The study showed that women who had protein snacks ate less during dinner.
It is recommended that 10 to 35% of one’s daily calorie intake comes from protein. However, this depends on a person’s caloric needs. The quantity of protein that one takes depends on age, sex and the level of physical activity. A safe intake of protein ranges from 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight to 2 grams for very active athletes. A majority of people require 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal.
All foods made from meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans and peas, nuts and soy products are all sources of protein. Far from animal sources, other sources include hemp and whey. Whatever you eat depends on your personal preference. For instance, whey protein is recommended for building and regenerating muscle mass. Whey protein is found in supplements such as protein powders. It is normally used in promoting lean muscle mass and is linked to weight loss. 20 grams of protein exist in a scoop of whey.
On the other hand, hemp protein comes from the hemp plant that does not contain THC. Hemp is available in seed, powder or milk form. There are 5.3 grams of protein per tablespoon of hemp seeds, about 5 grams per scoop of powdered hemp and 5 grams in each cup. Soy protein originates from soybeans and exists in different forms; milk, tofu, meat substitutes, flour, oil, tempeh and edamame.
Meats high in protein are:
- Steak- has 23 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving
- Lean beef- a 3-ounce serving contains 18 grams
- Pork chops- a 3-ounce serving contains 26 grams
- Skinless chicken breast- 24 grams for every 3-ounce serving
- Turkey breast- 24 grams for every 3-ounce serving
- Sockeye salmon- for every 3-ounce serving, 23 grams
- Yellowfin tuna- 25 grams per 3-ounce serving
Dairy foods high in protein:
- Greek yogurt- 23 grams per 8-ounce
- Cottage cheese- 14 grams per half a cup
- Eggs- 6 grams per egg
The protein foods that contain all essential amino acids are known as complete proteins, ideal proteins or high- quality proteins. Examples of such proteins include meat and dairy products. It is important to note that a majority of plant- based proteins are not complete proteins. They include beans, grains and legumes. Incomplete proteins can be combined to create complete proteins. Examples of combinations are cheese and peanut butter.
There is also an ideal protein diet. This is a diet that is low in carbs, calories and high in protein. Our bodies do not need as much protein as we may think.
- Teenage boys- they need a total of 7 ounces per day from three servings
- Children aged 2- 6, women and aged people- they require a total of 5 ounces from two daily servings
- Older children, teenage girls, active women and men- two daily servings totaling to 6 ounces.
Protein is a kind of molecule in foods that can be broken down into amino acids. Our bodies require twenty amino acids but it can only create eleven on its own. The remaining nine are referred to as essential amino acids and we get them by eating foods rich in them. The essential acids include tryptophan, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, phenylalanine, methionine, valine as well as histidine. Consequently, foods should be combined so that our bodies get all the amino acids they need.
A lot of hormones are proteins and our immune systems, digestive systems as well as blood depend on protein to function correctly. The main job of proteins is to build and maintain body tissues. Protein intake should be increased for people:
- With Injuries
- Recovering from surgery
- Who are active and constantly breaking down muscle during exercise.
Consumption of too much protein can lead to dehydration, fatigue, taking in too much calories and passing out increased levels of calcium. Eating more than 200 to 400 grams of protein on a daily basis can exceed the liver’s ability to convert excess nitrogen to urea. This can cause nausea, diarrhea as well as other side effects.