Since the age of the caveman, protein has been a vital part of our diets, but recently we have been seeing more and more everyday products on supermarket shelves with an extra protein punch. You can now buy Protein Weetabix, Protein Sausages and even Protein Mars Bars! Here at Exante, we look at why you need protein in your diet to keep you lean, healthy and feeling strong.
What you should know about protein
Protein is a form of molecule in food, that when consumed by the body is broken down into amino acids. There are nine essential amino acids the body can’t create on its own; Histidine, Tryptophan, Threonine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Threonine, Methionine, Valine and Phenylalanine which must be absorbed through protein in your diet.
To make it even easier and give you an informative breakdown of what you need to know, we’ve separated this guide into four simple sections:
- Why do we need protein?
- What foods contain protein?
- Protein myths busted
- Protein and weight loss
1. Why do we need protein?
Protein is a vital component in the composition of the body – it’s basically the body’s building block. Many hormones are proteins, and, the immune system, digestive system and blood all rely on proteins to work correctly.
Even our skin, hair and nails are built from proteins.
Protein is, therefore, an essential part of our diet, vital to the development and correct functioning of the body. Our bodies use protein for four main functions:
- Protein enzymes are biological catalysts; breaking down food for key nutrient absorption, removing waste products in the body and for basic growth and development.
- Keratin protein is a major component in essential hair, skin and nail production.
- Protein is essential for the growth and repair of muscle tissue in the body.
- Metabolism regulating hormones the body requires to send chemical messages in order to maintain cohesive function
How much protein do we need a day?
The amount of protein we require varies from person to person, but one of the most important is your activity level.
As a general rule; the optimum amount of protein to be consumed from food per day is 0.8g per kg of body weight. Based on these figures:
- The average non-active male would require 56g of protein per day.
- The average non-active female would require 46g of protein per day.
Studies have suggested that we may need even more protein in our diets than we think for optimal functioning, including immunity, metabolism, satiety, weight management and performance. In other words, we need a small amount of protein to survive – but we need a lot more to thrive.
2. What foods contain protein?
Animal products tend to contain high levels of protein; beef, chicken and fish are all excellent sources along with milk, yoghurt, eggs and cheese. Nuts and seeds such as almonds and peanuts are also potent sources, although they tend to be high in calories.
Many health-conscious dieters or fitness enthusiasts turn to high-protein meal replacement products for a calorie-controlled, convenient source of protein. Our Exante shakes, bars and soups all contain over 27g of protein. In comparison, you would need to consume 300g of pecan nuts to gain the same amount of protein, at a cost over 2000 calories and 216g of fat!
3. Protein myths busted
Myth 1 | You can eat too much protein
Myth 2 | Protein can harm your kidneys
Myth 3 | Protein can only make you build muscle
4. Protein and weight loss
Foods that are high in protein make you feel fuller for longer, reducing hunger and boosting your metabolism. Protein is also important during weight loss to ensure your body loses fat and not muscle. It is also essential for the repair of torn muscles following exercise.
How can I increase my protein intake?
Consuming enough protein in our busy everyday lives can be tricky; grabbing lunch on the run can often lead to bad diet decisions, meaning you miss out on essential nutrients in your diet.
Just 3 Exante products per day equates to 81 grams of protein; more than enough to keep you feeling full, satisfied and to enable essential and healthy bodily functions.