When we think about protein, more often than not, we think about muscles and chugging protein shakes to increase our gains in the gym. But protein does so much more! On top of aiding in the growth, repair and maintenance of tissues, protein helps with control of certain hormones, our acid-base (pH) balance as well as forming antibodies for disease protection. It also increases your satiety, which makes you feel fuller for longer (which means no extra snacking!).
Most people, especially women, do not meet their daily needs of protein on a given day. The average person should consume around 0.8g/kg of body weight per day. An individual engaging in regular endurance activity (3-5 days of 30-60 minutes per week) should consume around 1.2g/kg of body weight per day. Lastly, an individual engaging in regular high intensity exercise and/or strength training (3-5 days per week) should consume around 1.4-1.8g/kg of body weight per day. A protein source should be consumed for every meal. It is also important to consume protein within 20-45 minutes of a workout to aid in the rebuilding of muscle.
So where do you find protein in foods?
Depends on your diet! The average American consumes 44% of their protein from meat, fish, poultry and eggs. On top of being the most common, they are also much easier to digest. Plant protein sources, such as beans or tofu, actually have a harder time digesting in the body. This is because they aren’t complete proteins, whereas animal proteins are. Choosing to get your protein from plant-based foods is totally fine, but you’ll need to make sure you’re consuming more in order to meet your individual needs. Below are healthy plant and animal-based sources of protein:
Animal-based: leans meats (chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, tuna), egg whites, Greek yogurt, milk and various whey protein powders.
Plant-based: tofu, various soy and pea protein powders, beans and lentils, nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans), chickpeas, quinoa, chia seeds, spirulina.
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