Protein is essential to our existence because it is found in every cell of our body; it’s sometimes referred to as the building block of life. It is one of three macronutrient categories, along with fats and carbohydrates, that we need to consume daily for proper health and body function. Protein contributes to numerous processes in the body, such as, maintenance and repair of our muscles, skin, and nails, to name a few.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, diets containing an adequate amount of protein have been shown to reduce fatigue, support muscle health and contribute to healthy aging, as well as play a role in weight loss. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommends that 10-35% of your daily calories come from protein. Recommended daily allowances for protein, vary by age, as follows:
|Children ages 1 – 3||13 grams|
|Children ages 4 – 8||19 grams|
|Children ages 9 – 13||34 grams|
|Girls ages 14 – 18||46 grams|
|Boys ages 14 – 18||52 grams|
|Women ages 19 – 70+||46 grams|
|Men ages 19 – 70+||56 grams|
Protein is easy to incorporate into a healthy diet. Below are some types of protein and their benefits:
- Eggs/Lean meats – Eggs are considered a complete protein, meaning that they contain all of the essential amino acids that our body does not produce on its own or in adequate amounts. Protein is abundantly found in the muscle tissue of animals such as chicken, beef, pork and fish. When eating animal meats it is recommended that they are lean in fat and preferably without skin.
- Dairy – Protein derived from dairy, such as milk, yogurt and cheese, contain various amounts of fats and carbohydrates along with protein. Greek yogurt is a popular high protein dairy source because it retains more of the natural protein then regular yogurt.
- Nuts/legumes/grains – These are great sources of protein as well as healthy fats. They are not as protein dense as meats but are still recommended to be incorporated into your diet. One cup of dry beans has about 16 grams of protein.
- Protein Powders – Derived from different natural sources such as dairy; referred to as whey or casein, soy, eggs, and beef. These are normally consumed after high intensity workouts or supplemented into a diet deficient in protein. Normally their protein content ranges anywhere from 5-50 grams per serving depending on the powder.
Before making any changes to your diet, it is recommended that you consult with your physician or health care provider. A registered dietitian, nutritionist, or wellness coach may be able to help you create a healthy meal plan customized to meet your needs.