Are you eating enough protein?
Published 09/06/2016 | 00:00
A healthy diet needs to have adequate levels of protein.
It's essential for building muscles, hormones, and cells. When I tell people this they worry that they will bulk up and have huge muscles. But it won't do that-it will simply build and repair muscle, so that they don't waste away.
It's also needed for healthy skin and hair. If you've been ill your skin may feel saggy and tired, you could be lacking protein. Protein is needed for almost every function in the body. Protein is also crucial to help recovery and repair of muscles after training and exercise. You need to eat protein with every meal.
Protein is made up of 23 amino acids. They are all important for the body, but eight of them are essential and can only be made from the food that we eat. The body can produce the rest of them. This is important- remember that you have to eat the eight essential amino acids to build protein. You either eat them in your food or you can get them in supplements.
If you have enough protein with your meal it will help you feel full for longer, and more satisfied. Some people can find it difficult to have protein with every meal. For example lots of people don't have breakfast. That's one opportunity lost. Other people may only have a slice of toast and jam-there isn't a lot of protein there. If you only have soup you probably won't have had much protein in your lunch. Most people will only manage to get protein in at the main meal.
Sources of protein include eggs, red meat, chicken, dairy products and fish. As well as nuts, pulses, lentils, quinoa, and seeds. It's found in vegetables, fruit, and soya but in lesser quantities, and they don't contain all 23 amino acids.
Simple things like adding a can of pulses to soup, adding chia seeds to your breakfast, having nut butter on a slice of bread, or adding nuts and seeds to your meals, will increase your protein intake.
Protein shakes and protein bars are a convenient way of getting protein, especially after the gym or during a busy lunch break.
Protein is essential for your health. Make sure that you are getting enough.