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Protein – A Quick Guide

Protein – A Quick Guide

22nd January 2019

Do you base your meals around a good quality protein source? If not I'd suggest you start to build your plate around an appropriate portion size for you...proteins are the building blocks of everything within your body.

Why?

Proteins broken down into their simplest form are known as amino acids, the building blocks of everything within your body. They’re used to make new muscle tissues, tendons, organs and skin, alongside making enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and various other molecules that serve important functions in keeping you healthy. Whilst the body can store fats and carbohydrates, it doesn’t always have an accessible pool of amino acids from which to build cells from.

Complete Proteins

The body can produce 11 of the 20 amino acids for it’s self, but other 9, known as essential amino-acids, must be obtained from our diet. The quality of the protein source is important. Complete proteins, those which contain all the essential amino-acids, come mainly from animal sources. Consumption of meat, fish, eggs and dairy (ideally from free range/organic local sources) is going to be essential for the majority, depending on their genetic type and activity levels.

Plant Proteins

You can obtain plenty of protein from plant based sources also, it just takes a little effort and know how. The issue with plant protein sources is that they lack one or more of the essential amino acids. There are few plant based foods that buck the trend though;

  • Quinoa – a pseudocereal (their seed can be ground into flour and otherwise used as cereals), is also a great gluten-free option which is a complete plant protein.
  • Buckwheat – a grain-like seed that’s also gluten-free. Can be boiled like a grain or used as a good binding agent in cakes, cookies, crackers and other bread-like products.

Others that aren’t consider complete proteins (because they contain only a small amount of one essential amino acid, lysine) include hemp and chia seeds. They both also contain healthy unsaturated fats.

These are just a few of the combinations you can put together to form a complete plant protein;

  • Rice and beans
  • Hummus and pita bread
  • Peanut butter on toast

How much do you need?

The Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) set out by the British Nutrition Foundation is at 0.75g per kilo of body weight for adults. This is only a base line at which to prevent protein deficiency. In the UK on average a male consumes 88g, whilst females get 64g per day.

A good base line you can follow to meet your requirements can be based on your activity levels and body weight;

  • Inactive (Less than 150 minutes moderate intensity activity including some form of strength/resistance training) – aim for 1 gram of protein per kilo of body weight.
  • Moderately active (3 – 4 focused moderate to high intensity activity sessions including strength/resistance training) – aim for 1.5 grams of protein per kilo of body weight.
  • Highly active (5 + focused moderate to high intensity activity sessions mainly focused on resistance/strength training) – aim for 2 grams of protein per kilo of body weight.

Choose a variety of protein sources, especially from plants. Red meats and offal, especially liver, pack a punch being nutrient dense with many vital vitamins and minerals. Try eating meats only on the days you’re more active, especially around resistance training. Animal flesh is great at aiding new muscle growth and recovery. Less active days protein intake can be covered with eggs and various plant proteins. It’s become evident through various studies that our appetite for meat is detrimental to the health of our planet. We must take action to reduce our consumption ASAP!

Eating enough protein can help you lose weight.

Protein boosts your metabolic rate whilst reducing your appetite. This has been well supported by science. Protein at around 25-30% of calories has been shown to boost metabolism by up to 80 to 100 calories per day, compared to lower protein diets.

 

Yours in health,

Dave