Protein is one of the three macronutrients (the others are fat and carbohydrates) that is essential to life. Protein is needed to maintain the immune system, build and repair muscle, regulate blood sugar and to maintain energy throughout the day.
There is often a debate about how much protein is optimal, and what are the ‘best” sources of protein.
As to how much, the recommendation varies based on your goals and body composition. If you are trying to add muscle, or are an athlete, your protein requirements will be higher than a sedentary individual. A starting point is to consume .8 grams per pound of body weight. So, a 150 lb. individual may consider consuming 120 grams of protein per day as a starting point.
Now let’s talk about protein sources. If you are a meat eater protein is easy, it is found in all meats and seafood, beef, lamb, poultry, pork, fish, shellfish etc. Other animal sources of protein include dairy, whey protein, and eggs.
If you are not a meat eater, you will need to be more thoughtful about your protein consumption. Grains and beans for example have protein, but they do not contain all the 9 essential amino acids that are found in animal protein. There are a few exceptions: quinoa, flax and chia seeds, buckwheat and soy all contain complete proteins. A plant based protein powder can be great option as well, look for one with a combination of sources for a more complete amino acid profile such as pea, hemp or rice.
If you would like to optimize your protein consumption, the first thing to do is to track your food intake for at least a week. If you use one of the apps such as My Fitness Pal or Chronometer, tracking can be very easy and you can easily see your daily protein intake. From there you can fine tune based on your health goals.
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