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Protein - what you need to know

Protein and increasing protein seem to be on the top of people minds at the moment including my own. What does protein actually mean, I think a lot of people think protein = meat but this is not the case.

Protein is a large molecule that consist of many amino acids in one big chain, the amino acids are essential to the body and the body break down the protein chain to use each amino acid for different reasons. Protein is essential for muscle mass, the immune system and also the function of our hormones.

Not all protein is the same the amino acid chain of milk is very different to that of an egg. Which is why in plant based eating it important to combine wholesome ingredients such as lentils with brown rice as this is a complete protein chain with all essential amino acids needed in the body. Just having brown rice within a day means you haven’t had the complete amino acid chain.

Your body breaks down the protein in the digestive tract into the individual amino acids, which then enter the bloodstream. Once in the blood stream it doesn’t matter where they came from, they get pooled into an area ready for use within the body, to enable a steady supply it is important to eat an adequate amount of protein per day.

Anywhere between 0.8 g per kg of body weight to 2g per kg- depending on physical activity, male or female.

The average person need at least 0.8g per kg of body weight

60kg of weight = 48g of protein

If there is not an adequate amount of protein in the body, the body will start to break down muscle protein so that it can provide the amino acids to the vital areas of the body such as enzymes and hormones. You will often find this happen in ages 70 and over.

Out of the 20 amino acid that the body produces 9 of them are essential and must be obtained from food. The rest are able to be manufactured by the body.

Meat is very acidic and heavy and should not be where you source all your protein.

You can get protein from almost everything broccoli has protein in it for example. Most plant foods and grains contains protein.

lets look at each meal as an example using a 60kg female

Breakfast - Cup of Chia pudding with fruit ( 4g of protein)

Lunch - Tuna salad with cabbage, lettuce, pumpkin seeds, sesame dressing (33g of protein)

Dinner -Buddha bowl- Quinoa half a cup, broccoli half a cup, 54g of Cauliflower (1/2 cup), 1/4 avocado, sesame dressing and 2 eggs (21.5g of protein )- you could add seeds and nuts to a buddha bowel and increase that protein even more.

Total protein for the day is 58.5g well above what is needed but still in range, the example shows how easy it is to get protein. Remembering that good fats and carbs are also important for health.

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