The 5Ws of Protein
When it comes to fitness, training, weight loss or even general health, one of the most important macronutrients to help support you reach your health and fitness goals is protein. However, it seems people still have a lot of objections to and questions about protein.
“What is protein?”
“What are good sources of protein?”
“I don’t want to get buff, so I don’t need protein.”
“You need meat to get protein.”
“Why should I take protein?”
“Is too much protein is bad?” So allow me to break down the 5Ws of protein for you.
You! Protein has a lot of negative stereotypes, but the truth is everyone needs protein. You don’t need to be a bodybuilder or the next Arnold Schwarzenegger to require protein. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, an endurance athlete, a teenager or a couch potato, everyone needs protein. Protein plays many vital roles in the human body and, regardless of your lifestyle, is needed for general health and wellness.
Along with carbohydrate and fat, protein is one of the three main classifications of food (macronutrients). Protein is composed of chains of amino acids, which break down in the body to serve diverse functions. The word protein does not refer to powders, shakes and supplements, but rather an important nutrient found in foods.
We’ve heard it before, protein helps to build muscle, boost metabolism and burn fat. But what else does protein do? Protein is essential to our immune system, helping us build strong antibodies and fight off infection, it is vital for digestive function, as well as cellular structure and hormone balance. Protein is a whole lot more important than just looking buff or getting that bikini body. Interestingly, of the three macronutrients, protein is actually the most satiating and satisfying, keeping us fuelled and full the longest.
The most obvious sources of protein are animal proteins; eggs, chicken, pork, seafood and red meat. When is comes to animal protein, consider this rule: the fewer legs the better. The fewer legs something has (or at least had when it was alive) the better its ratio of protein to healthy fat. However, that does not mean that you need to grill up a chicken breast for every meal in order to consume enough protein. In fact, there are many sources of plant-based protein that can easily be incorporated into any meal or snack. Nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and certain grains can serve as excellent sources of plant-based protein to incorporate into a healthy diet. Check out this list for my top 10 Sources of Plant-Based Protein.
As a general rule, it is ideal to consume a source of protein at every meal or snack. Since protein is the most satiating nutrient, it also helps to balance blood sugar and reduce cravings for sweets and treats. Consider snacks like nuts, seeds, hard boiled eggs, or hummus as great healthy snacks rich in protein. Depending on your health goals, it is suggested that you consume between 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, you would want to be consuming roughly 90 grams of protein per day. This may sounds like a lot, but consider the amount of protein found in the following sources:
- 4 oz chicken = 35 grams
- 1 cup black beans = 15 grams
- 1/4 cup almonds = 8 grams
- 6 oz salmon = 40 grams
- 1 cup red lentils = 18 grams
Check out some of the my simple recipes for easy ways to add more protein to your diet. With Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes, Coconut Crusted Fish Tacos and Sticky Korean Chicken, I promise you will find something you like.