Protein ~ The King of Lean!
Are you one of those women who has blood sugar highs and lows that lead to cravings and moodiness? If you've answered yes then it's quite possible that you could be depriving yourself of one of the most important macronutrients needed by the body - protein. Many women do make the mistake of being on calorie restrictive diets and depriving themselves leading to the unpleasant symptoms of highs, lows, cravings and generally not feeling their best.
On a protein-rich diet, you will feel completely satiated after eating and you'll be amazed to see how many foods you can eat. Protein is essential to our health and we need to eat plenty of it daily to keep our metabolism optimised, for increased energy and stable blood sugar levels.
Protein is essential for building muscle, burning fat, and for metabolism (the key to long-term weight loss). It also improves your ability to learn and concentrate, to make brain chemicals that help calm us down and eliminate stress, reduce foggy brain, boost energy levels, support your muscles and bones and the absorption of important nutrients. In addition to building lean muscle tissue, many of your organs, cells and tissues require protein for proper regeneration. Protein is also essential in the healing process including cuts, burns and wounds - we need protein to heal and to be healthy! Protein from foods is used by every single part of the body to develop, grow and function properly and our organs, muscles, tissues and hormones are all made from proteins.
Suffice to say protein is involved in just about every bodily function and a deficiency can wreak havoc with your body!
HOW MUCH PROTEIN DO YOU NEED?
Something I get asked on a regular basis is "How much protein do I need?"
The Reference Intake (RI) of protein is set at 0.75g protein per kilogram of body weight per day. So, to calculate your own requirements, multiply your body weight in kg by 0.75; this will give you the average daily amount of protein that you need.
However, a slightly higher protein intake can encourage muscle development and support fat loss. I personally encourage people to take a little more than the suggested 0.75g protein (up to 1.3 - 1.6g protein per kilogram of weight) as many of us struggle to optimize our protein intake.
GOOD SOURCES OF PROTEIN
Variety is key to a healthy balanced diet, so it’s important to meet your protein needs from plant and animal-based sources.
Some of the best forms of protein are foods like grass-fed beef, free-range/organic chicken and turkey, free-range eggs, and high-quality grass-fed protein powder.
Bone Broth has become very popular and 1 serving (¼ cup) of bone broth will give you 20 grams of protein. There are protein powders made from bone broth which are packed with amino acids that support gut health and detoxification. It is packed with potassium, calcium, selenium and magnesium. Bone broth is amazing for joint health, boosting your immune system and for collagen.
Wild-caught salmon is one of my favourite choices for protein (not least because it is great for inflammation) and one of the healthiest foods around. Salmon is great for every aspect of your health, including your cells, heart, brain, bones, eyes and skin. It is high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and high in the vitamin B's; vitamin D; selenium; and potassium. 105g salmon is equal to 20 grams of protein.
With a little planning, your protein needs as a vegan can easily be met. Good sources include tofu, pulses, nuts, seeds and plant protein powders such as pea protein.
Black beans and lentils are both high-protein foods that can be consumed by vegetarians/vegans. Black beans are an excellent source of fibre and great for controlling blood sugar levels.
Besides ticking the protein box, lentils are full of fibre, folate, manganese, iron, potassium, and B vitamins. The protein in lentils help boost cardiovascular health, aid digestion, regulate blood sugar levels and help keep the body alkaline. Besides getting some protein from certain types of beans and even particular grains (such as gluten free oats) that have lower to moderate levels of protein, you can also obtain moderate amounts in seeds and nuts (such as almonds, chia seeds and flaxseeds).
Protein is vital for our health and it's important to check if you're meeting your daily needs. However, proteins and starches are acid, vegetables and fruits are alkaline. Just about all of the metabolic wastes of the body are acids so we need to eat alkaline forming foods like fruits and vegetables to help neutralize these acid wastes. You should ensure you get at least 10 servings of vegetables per day, which sounds like a lot but it equates to roughly five cups! In addition to this try and eat two fruits per day for optimal health
Below is an extensive list of protein foods to help you reach your daily protein intake.
THE FOLLOWING FOODS CONTAIN 20 GRAMS OF PROTEIN
159 grams eggs (3 whole eggs)
5 egg whites
80 grams canned tuna (packed in water)
21 grams protein powder (whey isolate)
87 grams chicken breast
80 grams turkey
143 grams codfish
75 grams shrimps
105 grams lean beef
105 grams ground beef
167 grams tofu
88 grams sardines
182 grams mussels
138 grams quorn
33 grams spirulina
118 grams scallops
194 grams Greek yoghurt
400 grams fat free yoghurt
121 grams feta cheese
185 grams edamame (soy beans)
103 grams tempeh (fermented soy)
235 grams lentils
250 grams red kidney beans
1 cup of black beans
313 grams chick peas
1/4 cup bone broth
222 grams surimi
105 grams salmon
179 grams cottage cheese