We all know that a healthy diet includes a balance of good-quality protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates (in moderation), but do you know how much protein is enough?
It’s a tough question as it actually depends on your gender and stage of life. Protein requirements vary from children through to adults and beyond.
Why does your body need protein?
Protein is essential for good health, as it occurs in all living cells. It feeds all 600 of your muscles, as well as carries out repairs and maintenance. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, which are used for the synthesis of proteins as well as a source of energy. And contrary to popular belief, eating protein does not make you more muscly!
Do you need to eat protein with every meal?
Yes. Eating protein with every meal not only helps keep you satisfied for longer, but it also fuels your muscle growth most effectively. The proteins of the body are continually being broken down and resynthesized, so it’s important to make sure they are replenished. For this reason, it’s best to spread your protein intake throughout the day.
How much protein do I need?
Well, that depends! Our bodies require different amounts of protein at each stage of life, and it’s different for men and women as well.
The best way to work it out is to use this simple nutrient calculator, which will tell you exactly how much protein you should be eating for your age and gender. On average, adult women should aim for about 46g of protein per day, while adult men should aim for 64g. Remember, this may be different if you are pregnant or lactating, so be sure to speak with your Naturopath.
Once you’ve worked out how much protein you should be eating per day, divide it by three for each of your main meals and make sure you’re incorporating the correct amount of protein into your breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I’ve heard you should eat protein after a workout. Is that true?
It is! As I said earlier, your body is constantly breaking down protein, so it’s really important to replenish your stores. This is particularly true after a weight-based workout. By eating around 20-30g of protein in the first hour after exercising, you will help repair the tiny tears you made in your muscles while working out, creating stronger, bigger muscles.
Best sources of protein
Protein can be found in both animal and plant foods, however, animal protein has a closer amino acid profile to that of humans. Therefore, it’s important for vegetarians to ensure they eat a variety of plant-based proteins to get all of the necessary amino acids. Check out my 5 favourite meat-free sources of protein for some ideas.
Some other common sources of protein include:
- 65g cooked lean red meat = 20g
- 80g grilled skinless chicken = 25g
- 100g grilled salmon = 24g
- 1 cup legumes = 13g
- 100g tofu = 12g
- 2 large eggs = 11g
- 30g mixed nuts = 5g
- 100g peas = 5g
- 100g kale = 4.3g
- 100g brussel sprouts = 3.4g
- 100g mushroom = 3.1g
If you want to learn more about the benefits of protein and would like some advice, book a free 15 minute phone chat with a qualified Naturopath. Click here to book now.
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