Nutrition 101: Protein
Proteins are the building blocks of life. Every cell in your body contains protein. It's essential to have protein in your diet to help your body repair cells and make new ones. Protein is very important for growth and development in children, teenagers and pregnant women.
Protein is broken down into three categories:
Essential - cannot be made by the body so must be supplied by food. Balance and regular intake over the day is important.
Nonessential - are made by the body in the normal breakdown of proteins.
Conditional - needed in times of illness and stress.
Here are some examples of essential proteins to incorporate into your diet:
- Meats such as beef, pork, lamb, poultry, turkey, shellfish and fish
- Dairy products such as milk
- Potatoes, quinoa, cauliflower and turnip greens
- Pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, split peas, or garbanzo beans
- Nuts and seeds, including almonds, hazelnuts, mixed nuts, peanuts, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, or walnuts (just ensure you track how much you eat, because nuts are high in fat and therefor quite energy-dense)
- Tofu, tempeh, and other soy protein products
Protein not only aids our body in normal daily functions and growth, it also plays a pivotal role in fat loss and lean muscle.
The "thermic effect of food" refers to the amount of energy expended above your resting metabolic rate due to the cost of digesting and processing food. As far as everyday nutrition goes, protein produces the most significant thermic effect of the three macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat). This explains, in part, why people see improved body composition on higher protein weight loss plans; you expend a lot of energy just breaking protein down. In addition, since you'll feel more satisfied after eating a high protein meal, your drive to eat will be reduced.
We recommend that protein consumption act as a base for the rest of your nutrition, and this is just one of many reasons. Not only are you providing your body with the material it needs to function and repair itself, but you're keeping yourself lean!
Try having a portion of one of the essential proteins listed above as a base for your meals, build in your carbohydrates such as rice, potato, bread, oats etc. and vegetables and fats around that. By doing this, you're giving your body multiple chances at fat burning throughout that day, and keeping yourself full.
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.