The Truth About Protein
Years ago, most of us gave little thought to protein. But thanks to the huge increase of high-protein/low-carbohydrate diets like Atkins and, more recently, the Paleo movement (which favours a diet high in unprocessed protein like wild-caught fish and grass-fed meat), this macronutrient has become a source of debate. How much protein should you eat? What are the best sources? Should you load up on protein after exercise? Can vegetarians and vegans get enough protein from plants alone? Let’s learn the truth about protein.
How Do Our Bodies Use Protein?
One thing experts agree on: Protein is essential to the human diet. Firstly, the old saying “you are what you eat” is especially true when it comes to protein because our muscles, skin, hair, bones, and organs are made primarily of protein. Secondly, protein is the second-most abundant molecule in the body (after water). It’s one of the three macronutrients essential to providing your body with energy; fat and carbohydrates are the other two. Thirdly, it plays an essential role in healing, muscle building, and growth.
Getting the Right Amount of Protein – The Truth About Protein
We may all laugh at the gym rat who’s surgically attached to his protein shake bottle, but that doesn’t alter the fact that protein and muscle go hand-in-hand. To clarify, that’s because the muscle-building macro contains amino acids, the building blocks used for muscle growth, but exactly how much protein does your body actually require?
There is still a lot of debate in the fitness industry over optimal protein intake, with guidelines ranging from 0.8g per kg body weight up to 2.5g or even 3g per kg bodyweight. For instance, for an 80kg guy, that’s the difference between 64g protein per day and 240g! However, most protein calculators will take into account your age, gender, and activity levels. The generally accepted figure is 0.8-1g of protein per kg body weight, while it can increase to 1.2-1.6g/kg of body weight to build muscle and even reach 2g of protein/kg of body weight for athletes and bodybuilders.
Top Sources of Protein – The Truth About Protein
Whole eggs are among the healthiest and most nutritious foods available. In short, they’re an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, eye-protecting antioxidants, and brain nutrients that you need. Most importantly, whole eggs are high in protein, but egg whites are almost pure protein. In fact, they pack around 67% of all the protein found in eggs. This protein is high-quality and complete, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids in the amounts your body needs to function at its best.
Almonds are a popular type of tree nut and are rich in essential nutrients, including fibre, vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium. A 28g serving of almonds contains:
- Fibre: 3.5 grams
- Protein: 6 grams
- Fat: 14 grams (9 of which are monounsaturated)
- Vitamin E: 37% of the RDI
- Manganese: 32% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 20% of the RDI
Milk contains a little of nearly every nutrient that your body needs. To clarify, it is a good source of high-quality protein, and it’s high in calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin B2. In addition, if you are concerned about your fat intake, low or zero fat milk is an option. On the other hand, for those with lactose intolerance, consuming milk can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms.
Broccoli is a popular vegetable that provides vitamin C, vitamin K, fibre, and potassium. Calorie for calorie, it’s higher in protein compared with most vegetables. For instance, in about 100g of broccoli, there can be up to 3g of protein. Broccoli also provides high amounts of plant compounds and flavonoids, such as kaempferol. These may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects.
Lean beef is high in protein, as well as highly bioavailable iron, vitamin B12, and large amounts of other vital nutrients. It is suitable for people on a low carb diet. Lean cuts of beef are those with less than 10 grams of total fat and 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat per 100g. Dishes like our Beef Barbacoa Burrito Bowl and our Beef Bolognese Protein Pot.
Greek yogurt pairs well with sweet and savory dishes. Moreover, it has a creamy texture and is high in many nutrients with 69% of the calories coming from protein. As a result, one 170g container has about 17g of protein and only 100 calories. When buying greek yogurt, opt for one without added sugar.
High Protein Meal Plan
Eating foods high in protein has many benefits, including muscle building, weight loss, and feeling fuller after eating. Though eating lots of protein may be beneficial, eating a balanced diet is an essential part of staying healthy. Take a look at our High Protein Meal Plan designed by our team of expert nutritionists. This 4 Week 5 Day Meal Plan is packed full of high protein meals, snacks, and sides that will allow you to reach your nutritional goals while enjoying delicious and wholesome meals.
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Annie O' Brien
Business Development Manager
Annie is our Business Development Manager here at GourmetFuel. Annie completed her Bachelor’s degree in Food Innovation at the Technology University of Dublin. Before joining the team at GourmetFuel, she worked for a successful start-up company based in New York City where she gained valuable experience in product development, food safety, and allergen management and control. Her areas of interest are food business sustainability, health promotion, and nutrition research.
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