What’s the big deal about protein? You can’t hang around the gym or lurk on social media for very long before hearing someone talking about a high protein diet or discussing a favorite protein powder. Is it really necessary to focus so heavily on protein?
Eating adequate amounts of protein is essential for good health. But, how much do you really need? Can you get enough without relying on shakes or steaks? The questions keep coming. Fortunately, there are well researched facts and answers!
More Protein Please
Every cell in the human body has some type of protein. Your body uses protein to repair and build tissue, transport oxygen, make enzymes, control blood sugar, maintain a healthy immune system and more. While your body is able to make the non-essential amino acids that are part of protein, you need to acquire essential amino acids from food to flesh out the protein picture.
The recommended daily allowance for protein depends on how much you weigh and your lifestyle. Individuals should consume .8 grams for each kilogram of bodyweight. So a 100 pound (45 kilograms) person would need 36 grams of protein for basic health. A 200 pound person would need twice that much to keep things running!
However, athletes and very active folks need more than the RDA. That’s when this handy, dandy free interactive calculator provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture becomes useful. The calculator can tell you specifically what your protein needs are (and other nutrient needs as well) in relation to your age, activity level and weight.
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But, before you go out and buy a cow and cases of protein powder, be warned. Researchers say it is possible to go overboard. Too much protein consumption can lead to dehydration, damage to bones and kidneys or be converted to fat by the body.
If you do the calculations and find you could use more protein in your diet, it’s not difficult to reach adequate amounts without much trouble. If you like common sources like meat, beans and fish, keep on eating them! In addition, here are some sneaky ways to deliver protein to your body throughout the day.
– Got Milk? Drink Up. Dairy and nut milks are both good candidates for your milk mustache.
– Get Cheesy. From cottage to cheddar, small amounts of cheese can complement a cracker or add nutritional balance to a hunk of fruit.
– Go Nutty with Nuts. Sprinkle them on everything and mix them into anything. Peanuts, pistachios and almonds, in particular, are higher in protein than other nuts.
– Satiate with Seeds. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are particularly protein packed. Snack on them or toss them on top of your salads or veggies.
– Use Protein Pasta. Many pasta brands offer a high protein option.
– Consume Quinoa
– Go Greek! Greek yogurt beats out other types when it comes to protein.