Developing your understanding of nutrition often involves a good amount of myth busting and debunking the misconstrued messaging that can lead to drastic dietary changes.
This week I’m exploring the importance of including protein in every meal and busting the myth that a high protein diet is solely for body builders!
To help you understand the role that protein plays in a healthy diet, I’ve answered four common questions surrounding protein intake that should help you appreciate exactly what this macronutrient can offer when you actively include it in every meal;
1. What does protein do for the body?
Protein is primarily used within the body to build and repair tissues; this could mean muscles, hair, nails, bones and even blood. It’s also used to make certain chemicals such as enzymes, hormones and neurotransmitters which your body uses for… well, everything! Protein is essentially one of the most essential building blocks for every part of your body and every one of its functions.
2. What are the benefits of including enough protein in every meal?
Unlike other macronutrients, the body cannot store protein for later use but solely relies on having a consistent supply through the food we consume. Fuelling your body with enough protein means natural functions such as tissue growth and digestion continue effectively.
Protein also takes longer to digest than other macronutrients which means that you’re more likely to stay fuller for longer when you consciously make space for protein on your plate.
3. Which foods are high in protein?
Traditional sources of protein such as meat, poultry, fish and milk make great additions to your mealtimes. However, as some of us may be trying to limit consumption of animal products for various eco/ethical reasons, it’s important to remember that protein can come from a variety of other sources, such as; eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds and beans.
If you are trying to reduce your intake of animal products, you might be finding it harder to feel full after meals which could indicate that your diet is lacking in protein (or fat). Try to consciously consider which elements of your meals are protein-dense and increase the portion size or consider using good quality supplementary protein powders.
4. How much protein should I be having?
Advised protein intake can vary depending on a variety of factors such as, your age, your weight and how much you exercise. As a general guideline, women are recommended to aim for 20-30 grams of protein per meal (for context, that’s about 1 tin of tuna). As most of us don’t have the time to be tracking our macros, a good method for ensuring an adequate protein intake is to dedicate about a quarter of your meal to a rich source of protein.
So, protein isn’t just for bodybuilders?
While eating sufficient protein is important for building muscle, it can also help support your immune system, help your digestion, promote hormone production and help weight loss by ensuring you leave mealtimes feeling fuller (i.e. less snacking!).