If you’ve ever looked into dieting, losing weight or simply having a healthier lifestyle, you’ve probably come across a lot of content about protein. But what actually is it, and why is it so important?
What is protein?
Protein is a macronutrient that our body needs to maintain healthy bodily functions. It works alongside carbohydrates and fats to create the foundations for every cell in your body.
Protein, in particular, helps our muscles to grow strong while also ensuring the body produces biochemicals like hormones and enzymes. It can also help with tissue repair.
Within proteins are amino acids – which you’ve probably also heard of. These acids can be used to help the body process proteins into useable goodness. Of course, amino acids can be recycled for other functions, but it’s better to provide the body with a daily supply of protein to keep things ticking over properly.
How do we consume protein?
If you’re a meat-eater, you can usually get all nine essential amino acids from animal protein. Amino acid can’t actually be produced by the body itself, which is why it’s so important to feed it protein through our diet.
Those that have a vegetarian or plant-based diet may have concerns about getting the ‘complete dose’ of protein in their everyday meals. But you shouldn’t worry too much: All nine amino acids are present within a plant-based protein; it’s just the levels of each can differ.
Using plant based sausage or other meat alternatives are a great way to ensure your body is getting the protein it needs, as these products are usually fortified with all the right nutrients. It’s also recommended that herbivores eat a varied diet of plant proteins to achieve balanced nutrition and a complete amino acid set.
How much protein do I need?
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that an average adult should have 0.8g of protein for every kilogram of weight. So, the amount you should be consuming really depends on your body type.
There are other factors to take into consideration, too. Lifestyle factors like how much activity you’re doing and your current health goals can change the amount of protein you’ll need. As protein is great for building muscle, those taking part in weight training for muscle gain might want to up their intake.
When switching to a plant-based diet, there is often concern that the body won’t be able to get the correct amount of protein without the help of red meats. This is a particularly big concern for people living an active lifestyle as those exercising regularly will likely need more protein to sustain them.
Luckily, with plant-based diets growing in popularity, there are plenty of food options on the market that can ensure you get all the nutrients and proteins you need, and there’s plenty of recipes to help, too!
Next time you go shopping, take a look at the product labels for each item you add to your basket. You’ll be able to see just how much protein is in each product which will help you plan your meals with a healthier and stronger body in mind.