Protein. Too Much or Too Little?
Even if you are new to nutrition, there's no doubt you've heard about the three categories of nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. But should you be paleo and eat lots of fat and protein, or vegan (but where to get the protein then and do I really need as much?)? Don't worry, after reading this article you will have a solid knowledge of how much and which kind of protein you need whether you are a meat-eater or not.
What is protein?
Think about protein as the building blocks of life. They help us make muscle, connective tissue, hair, blood, enzymes, neurotransmitters, and much more. Protein is made up of 21 amino acids. Your body can make 12 of them, but there are nine that are called the “essential” amino acids because you need to get them directly from your food. The protein foods group includes seafood, dairy, meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds. Remember, you should choose organic dairy, eggs, meat and soy products whenever possible.
Too much or too little?
There is not really a consensus among nutritionists whether we eat too much or too little protein. The RDA, or recommended dietary allowance, is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Do your math! New research suggests that older adults tend not to absorb protein as efficiently, so seniors may need more of it. There are experts, like Dr.Gabrielle Lyon, who claim, that we should consume the proper amount of protein throughout the day at each meal so at least 30 g of protein, 3 times a day which will stimulate the muscle for protein synthesis. On the other hand, experts like Ocean Robbins claim that protein deficiency is virtually nonexistent in industrialized countries and we might be overdoing it with all those protein bars and shakes.
As always, truth can be found somewhere in the middle. While true protein deficiency is indeed uncommon in the Western world, some people get very low amounts from their diet. And even moderate protein insufficiency may cause muscle wasting, especially in elderly people. Protein deficiency often leaves its mark on the skin, hair and nails, which are largely made of protein. Hair thinning, faded hair color, hair loss (alopecia) and brittle nails are also common symptoms. However, these symptoms are unlikely to appear unless you have a severe protein deficiency. Not consuming enough protein may also weaken your bones and increase the risk of fractures.[source]
Listen To Your Body
While following official recommendation, we tend to forget what our own bodies have to say. Vegan but caught in the pantry eating a salami? Maybe that's your body's way to say you need more protein in your diet. Don't despair! There are many plant based protein options to boost your protein levels. Here are some of them: shelled seeds (hemp, flax, and chia seeds are excellent), or seeds that have been ground into a powder, so you get all the benefits of the whole foods but you have a quick fix if you are really in a hurry. Plant-based protein food sources such as tempeh, lentils, edamame, chickpeas, black beans, quinoa, tofu, almonds, sunflower seeds, oatmeal or broccoli, contain abundant and complete protein. [source]
What is your favorite source of protein?