Without protein it’s impossible for you to stay alive. Protein builds your skin, muscle, bones, blood, your organs – everything! Hormones, enzyme, and antibodies are all proteins and all of these proteins must be constantly replenished in order to keep your body functioning properly.
I guess it’s good that most foods you eat contain protein with the exception of fruit, which don’t really give you an effective amount. You probably don’t have a problem finding protein but are you eating quality protein?
All protein is made up of 20 building blocks called amino acids. Unfortunately your body can’t create nine of these essential acids, which means you have to get them from food sources.
The highest quality proteins contain enough essential amino acids to meet your nutritional needs which you can get from animal sources like egg whites, milk, meat and fish.
On the other hand vegetables and grains are significant sources of the essential amino acids, each one alone is often short one essential amino acid. Therefore, if you eat no animal products you must learn how to combine your protein sources. For example, cereals are low in the essential amino acid lysine, while legumes (like peas, beans, and lentils) are low in methionine. A meal containing both rice and beans will have all of the essential amino acids you need.
So how much protein is enough?
46 g for adult women is recommended. It’s also recommended that 10% to 35% of your total caloric intake come from protein. (The rest come primarily from carbohydrates and fats.)
Is there any danger to eating too much protein?
If you get your protein from animal sources your intake of saturated fat and cholesterol may increase. In addition nitrogen has to be released to help metabolize the protein and has to be flushed away by your kidneys, which takes away some valuable minerals like calcium, magnesium, and zinc.
High-protein diets like Atkins, Scarsdale, or Stillman diets are alluring since you’ll see rapid weight loss because of the water lost in excreting protein metabolites. In spite of this, these diets aren’t safe or long-term, because your body begins to break down its own protein to make the glucose necessary for your brain to function and your body to have enough energy. At the end of the day you lose valuable protein and the unwanted fat stays.
Good Sources of Protein
- Skim Milk
- Egg Whites
- Lima Beans
- Green beans