Whenever I have spoken to anyone about protein, the immediate reaction I get is “isn’t that for bodybuilders who spend their life flitting between the gym and the mirror?”.
In fact this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Why so important?
Protein originally comes from the Greek word ‘Protos’ meaning first and has an influence in all of our body’s cell processes. Digestion of protein occurs in your stomach and intestine. Here is where the protein is broken down into smaller units, called amino acids. Different types of amino acids are pieced together to make a number of combination’s (like bricks building different shaped houses).
The body then uses these amino acids to make proteins it needs for life function.
Your body can produce some amino acids on its own but others have to be obtained from the diet through protein rich foods
So how much protein?
This varies when considering everyone is different but the recommended daily amount is roughly 30-40g according to The Food Standards Agency. New research shows individuals may require more than this to maintain body composition and mobility. Sufficient protein will assist the body to grow, repair, assist with the aging process and help keep you full (especially helpful in dieting).
What to look for?
When choosing meat, look for lean versions but vegetables can be limited due to being low in these building blocks needed to make whole proteins but one that tops the list is Quinoa (pronounced Keen-Wa); a high protein seed that is classed as a complete protein as it has all the building blocks. You can cook it just like rice or even buy Quinoa flakes to make as porridge.
Protein in meals can be fairly straight forward but what about some high protein snacks to keep you going. Below are a few ideas for packing in some protein in between meals:
- A handful of mixed unsalted nuts and seeds (e.g. almond, brazil, walnut, hazelnut, sesame, flax, pumpkin, sunflower). Tip: carry a pot of mixed nuts around for hunger pangs or keep a pot on your desk at work.
- Plain live natural (unsweetened) yoghurt with: a handful of seasonal berries (lower sugar e.g. blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries). Optional: one tablespoon of freshly ground seeds (50% linseed; 25% pumpkin; 25% sunflower) for additional fibre, protein and essential fatty acids.
- Whey protein: Yes it’s not just for muscle boys, whey protein is produced from sweet whey, a natural by-product from cheese manufacturing where milk is separated into curds. Good brands isolate whey protein using a combination of Cross-Flow Ultrafiltration and Microfiltration techniques. Nutri Ultrameal or Pulsin are some to think about. See below). Add to a smoothie or enjoy on its own. There are even non dairy alternatives.
- 3 Oatcakes with
- cottage cheese
- nut butter (e.g. almond, peanut)
- tuna (can buy tinned; but there are no omega 3 in tinned tuna)
- smoked salmon
- chicken slices
- tinned sardines
- Hummus – with raw vegetable sticks
- Edamame (soy) beans
- Hard boiled eggs
Food Standards Agency. (2006) FSA Nutrient and Food Based Guidelines for UK. Online: http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/nutguideuk.pdf
Herman J. (Date Unknown) Protein and the body. Online: http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-2473/T-3163web.pdf
Layman DK. (2009) Dietary Guidelines should reflect new understandings about adult protein needs. Nutrition & Metabolism, 6:12
Nutri Ultra Meal http://www.nutri-online1.co.uk/Default.aspx?tabid=460 Call 0800 212 742 to order.