While I was checking my email, a window popped up sporting the words Plant Protein in huge fonts. This piqued my curiosity and off I went googling. Here now, I’ve found this gem, Protein: Moving Closer to Center Stage posted on the Harvard.edu website.
The article correctly points out that proteins were often overshadowed by carbs, fat and vitamins. True; counting carbs on a daily basis has become a second nature for me; I am probably thinking about fats in the same pattern although subconsciously for the most part; and don’t think about vitamins at all. I hear about the trio nearly every day on the net. But proteins? Had this window not popped up, the word ‘protein’ wouldn’t even cross my mind.
Not all proteins are the same. There are complete and incomplete proteins that differ in the number of amino acids they contain. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. A human body needs about 20 of different amino acids, and while it actually makes (but not stores) some, the rest has to come with the food. The incoming proteins are known as “essential” amino acids. Complete or high quality proteins have all nine essential amino acids. For example, eggs, cheese, and meat have complete proteins.
On the other hand, incomplete protein sources are low in one or more essential amino acids. Examples are bean and tofu.
WebMD goes on elaborating about the other nutrients that come with protein. Such as fiber that is plenty in beans, vegetables, nuts in legumes; Omega-3 in salmon, tuna, and eggs enriched with it; sodium that you naturally should cut back on (I’m still trying); and saturated fats that you’d better avoid. Of course, limit red meat and basically choose from a variety of protein sources.
It also recommends to include protein with every meal to help feel full longer that is good for the weight loss per chance this is what you’re trying to achieve and good for the diabetics as well; also good for the muscles which is naturally important as one gets older and start to lose muscle mass. It is recommended to eat protein-containing food along with carbs after a workout. Generally, athletes need more protein than the couch potatoes.
Due to the fact that our bodies don’t store protein in the same way they store carbs and fat, we need a steady supply of protein every day. According to WebMD, adult men need 56 grams of protein a day and women, 46 grams; 71 grams if pregnant or breastfeeding. It further states that 10% of adult daily calories, but not more than 35%, should come from protein.
A typical day with about 50 grams of protein could include: Chicken (3 ounces), two large eggs, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, and 8 ounces of yogurt. I can handle that ☺
A few words about Kwashiorkor. This is a nutritional disorder that affects kids in the developing countries. I still remember seeing pictures of these kids in my psychology class; they all have a very distinctive appearance and listless behavior. It happens as a result of them being fed a staple diet of rice (low in protein) and can be life-threatening. I don’t think it happens in the U.S.
Most Americans get all the protein they need from their diet. In fact, most of us get more than enough. Vegetarians – especially vegans – may not get enough because plant-based proteins can have low amounts of some amino acids. The signs of too little protein include recent weight loss, tired muscles, and a drop in your muscle strength (pretty vague IMO).
Want to check your knowledge about proteins? Take a quiz by clicking here. Feel free to disregard the popup asking to join some mailing list; methinks I’m already receiving more than enough emails as it is. My score was 65% on the first try, and 100% on the second one. Enjoy.