… one of the major nutrients the body needs, protein is required in adequate amounts each day. It’s essential to life and without adequate protein, the body would not be able to grow or repair itself each day.
Proteins are made up of ‘building blocks’ called amino acids. Many of these amino acids are known as ‘essential’ because the body cannot make them and therefore, they must be supplied through the diet. When a protein contains all the essential amino acids, it is considered ‘complete’.
Proteins can be of animal or plant origin. All proteins of animal source are complete. Plant sources, with the exception of soy protein, are considered incomplete as they lack one or more essential amino acid. However, two incomplete plant proteins can be complementary – one protein can provide the amino acid the other lacks, and visa versa. This is how strict vegetarians are able to meet protein needs.
What does it do? Its primary role is to build and repair muscle tissue, but the body needs proteins for many other functions. Hormones (cellular messengers) are proteins, as are enzymes, which help the body perform many chemical reactions inside the cells. These as well as numerous other specialised proteins are made by the body in order to survive.
Where do you get it? Lean red meat, turkey, chicken, fish and eggs are rich sources of animal protein. Good sources of plant proteins include beans, lentils and peas. Protein powders made from soy, whey (from milk) or egg whites can be added to other foods to boost protein content.
Healthy living tip Animal proteins tend to be higher is saturated fat than plant proteins. If consuming animal protiens, try to choose low fat options or lean cuts of meat
Healthy living tip Getting plenty of protein in your diet (along with moderate exercise) is important if you are looking to build lean muscle mass. By increasing your body’s percentage of lean muscle mass your metabolism is also increased meaning you’ll burn more calories even while you are sleeping!