You've heard about how a high protein diet can help you to lose weight, but do you know why protein is essential?
Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is a macronutrient, meaning that our bodies need large amounts of it.
But unlike fat and carbohydrates, our body doesn't store protein. So we must get enough protein in our diet for our bodies to stay healthy and active.
Protein is an essential nutrient for every cell in our bodies.
Hair and nails are mainly protein. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. Enzyme, hormone, and body chemical production depend on sufficient protein.
Protein is an essential building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. It helps your body to maintain a proper fluid balance, builds and repairs tissues, transports nutrients and provides other essential functions.
Healthy glowing skin needs protein.
The skin's proteins are collagen, elastin and keratin. The environment, ageing and a diet lacking enough protein and nutrients affect our body’s ability to produce these skin proteins. Your body prioritises nutrients and your skin, hair and nails are at the bottom of the list.
So for healthy skin, hair and nails, it's essential to make sure you get enough protein in your diet.
Some of the benefits of increasing protein in your diet are:
- Maintain collagen and elastin
- Collagen and elastin help to make your skin firmer and less prone to wrinkles.
- Reduces appetite and hunger
- Protein reduces your level of the hunger hormone ghrelin. It also boosts the levels of peptide YY, a hormone that makes you feel full.
- Reduce food cravings
- Starting your day with a high-protein breakfast may reduce cravings and snacks later in the day.
- Helps to maintain muscle mass
- Eating plenty of protein can help reduce the muscle loss associated with ageing and stop muscle loss when losing weight.
- Keeps your bones healthy
- People who eat more protein have better bone health and a much lower risk of osteoporosis and fractures as they get older.
- Boosts your metabolism
- Increased protein helps to burn more kilojoules throughout the day.
- Your body will recover faster after injury
- As protein is the main building blocks of your tissues and organs, eating more protein after an injury can help with recovery.
- Maintain weight loss
Losing weight is the beginning; keeping it off is another challenge. Increasing your protein intake can not only help you lose weight but keep it off in the long term.
Do you know how much protein you need?
Everyone needs a different amount, and there are various factors to consider. Some of those factors are weight, lifestyle, gender, age and health.
The average recommended daily intake for women is 0.75g for each kilo of body weight, so if you weigh 65kg, you'll need 49 grams of protein each day.
If you have any health issues, please consult your health practitioner before making any diet changes. This is especially important if you have any kidney concerns.
What are the best sources of protein?
- lean meats – beef, lamb, veal, pork
- poultry – chicken, turkey, duck
- fish and seafood – fish, prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, scallops
- eggs – the perfect protein
- dairy products – milk, yoghurt (especially Greek yoghurt), cheese (especially cottage cheese)
- nuts (including nut pastes) and seeds – almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, macadamias, hazelnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, quinoa, chia
- legumes and beans – all beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, tofu
- vegetables – spinach, kale, broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, asparagus
Choosing your protein depends on your preferences, taste, ethics and allergies, and intolerances.
Not all sources of protein are equal.
Animal sources of protein like chicken, beef, fish, eggs and dairy are complete proteins. They contain all the essential amino acids our bodies need.
Plant proteins are incomplete proteins because they do not contain a complete amino acid profile. Combining different sources of plant proteins ensures that you get the health and beauty nutrients that you need.
Even though protein is essential for good health, it's possible to overdo it.
Check that your daily intake is within the recommended guidelines. Consult your health practitioner if you aren't sure about your daily intake.
What's your daily protein intake? If you have any questions, please ask in the comments below.