Diet and nutrition are key to a healthy life. Everyone knows you need to eat protein, but how much do you know about protein, and why is it important? National protein day aims to put our focus on diet and educate us on the different kinds of protein, and why we should care. The goal, ultimately, is to help us learn how to improve our diets.
Keep reading to find out what is protein good for, and why eating more of the right kinds of protein can improve your diet and your health.
- The Most Important Protein Benefits
- What is Protein?
- Eating Protein Can be Healthy, Nutritious, and Fun
- Raise Awareness on National Protein Day
The Most Important Protein Benefits
The bulk of most foods consists of carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Most people eat more protein in order to build muscle. But did you know there are other benefits of eating more protein?
Protein is important for more than just big muscles; it’s also good for flexibility. It keeps your hair healthy and shiny. Your skin will look healthier and sport an even glow when you are eating the right kinds of protein. It helps carry oxygen through the blood, and if you need more energy, protein can even be used as fuel.
Your DNA depends on protein as well. Protein organizes and compartmentalizes your DNA, and your genes usually express themselves by making proteins.
Many people today are turning to low-carb high protein diets to improve their health, lose weight, and become more athletic. Carbohydrates stimulate your appetite, making you want to eat more. So if you want a snack that will blunt your appetite instead of sharpening it, you may want to consider something high in protein. But more doesn’t always mean better. If you eat too much protein it will be stored as fat, just like every other food.
After age forty, it is common for people to lose muscle mass. Eating more of the right kinds of protein can help fight this process and ensure you stay strong as you age.
What is Protein?
Protein is the core building block of every tissue in the human body. On a molecular level, protein is made up of nitrogen-containing molecules called amino acids. There are twenty different amino acids, and nine of these cannot be made by the human body. We have to get these nine essential amino acids from our diet. This means you have to be careful when picking your proteins to make sure you get enough of the nine essentials.
If a food product contains all nine of these amino acids it is called a complete protein. Most animal proteins are considered to be complete proteins by nutritionists.
You not only need to get enough protein, but you also need to eat the right kinds.
All animal sources of protein are considered complete. Meat, fish, poultry, milk, and eggs are all completeproteins. Other complete types of protein include grains like quinoa, buckwheat, hempseed, and soybeans.
You can get protein from many additional sources, but these are not complete proteins, so you will need to supplement them with other sources. Wheat, corn, rice, and other grains are among the incomplete sources of protein.
When you have all twenty amino acids in your body, your DNA can function properly. When a gene is turned on, it makes a small list of instructions. This list is fed into a machine, kind of like a 3D printer, that turns the instructions into a long strand of protein that looks like a noodle. As the newly-minted protein comes out the other end of the printer, it automatically folds and twists itself into a special shape that helps it do its job. Using DNA, the body can create almost any shape imaginable, and it uses these incredibly complex molecules to support and sustain the magic we call life.
We cannot overstate the importance of protein in your diet.
Eating Protein Can be Healthy, Nutritious, and Fun
Protein is found in most foods, but it is highest in meats and dairy products. There are plant sources that are high in protein like nuts, quinoa, and others. They are getting more common, but some of them may be hard to find in your local stores.
It’s best to eat protein early in the morning and around the times you work out, and high protein foods pair well with a large variety of other foods. I like to keep my carb intake under control, so I eat lots of green leafy vegetables and complex carbohydrates like squash, zucchini, and other vegetables with lots of fiber. These foods bring out a lot of rich flavors and make eating a lot of fun.
The kind of protein you should eat is highly specific to you and your needs. What is most important is that you ensure you eat enough complete proteins to stay healthy.
It’s important to eat the right amount of protein too. If you eat too much it will be converted into fat. Adult males should be getting at least fifty-six grams of protein per day, and women need at least forty-six grams. Your personal needs will vary depending on your age, sex, activity level, and other elements of your personal profile.
There are a lot of fun diet plans you can use to get the protein you need to live a healthy life. These plans have been created to accomplish specific goals, and aren’t right for everyone. For example, the Keto Diet has benefits and risks, so you should educate yourself before giving it a try. If you have health problems or other concerns, consult with your primary care provider and consider getting the opinion of a licensed dietician.
Raise Awareness on National Protein Day
You can get your complete protein needs from many different sources. If you are not getting enough protein in your diet, you can depend on several high-quality types of protein powder for help. Most of these powders are animal-based, but there are veggie protein sources for vegans and vegetarians. Really adventurous people can even try a cricket-based protein powder that is delicious, nutritious, and good for the environment.
If you are not eating animal protein, you need to be a little more careful to make sure you’re getting complete proteins. This is easy to do with just a little bit of education. Brown rice protein powder does not contain complete protein. But by adding more peas to your diet, you can fill in the missing parts and enjoy a healthy, meat-free solution for all of your protein needs.
How much protein do you eat on an average day? I recommend you keep track of the foods you eat. Ensure you are getting enough complete protein, and keep your caloric intake under control. Download a food diary or nutrition app today and start tracking your diet! It can be fun and informative.