Proteins are the main building blocks of the body. They are made up of amino acids that are linked together to make long protein chains. Easy enough, but here’s the interesting part. Some amino acids are produced by the body but some must be gotten from the food we eat. The ones that we we cannot make and must be gotten from our diets are called essential amino acids.
For meat eaters, animal protein provides all the essential amino acids, in the correct ratio, that allows our bodies to make full use of them. Vegetarians also get “this ratio” by combining certain foods to make up a complete protein.
Adding more protein to your diet is essential to regular folks, body builders and growing children. It helps to boost your metabolic rate, it builds muscle (with exercise) and it reduces your appetite much more than carbs and fats. (Do you notice that when you’re eating chips and cookies for snacks you have to eat a lot in order to get and stay full?)
So how much protein do I need? If you are an inactive person get 60 grams a day. Moderately active people need 80 – 100 grams and active people need 1 gram per pound of body weight. There is a lot of info on the internet concerning the amounts of protein needed each day. Some info states higher amounts and some lower, but this is a good rule of thumb.
As a quick reference:
Chicken, pork and beef all contain approx. 22 grams per 3 oz serving **Best choice: eat organic chicken and pork, and organic grass fed beef.
3.5 oz fish fillet or fish steak= 22 grams/ 6 oz can of tuna= 40 grams
1 egg = 7 grams
1 oz. cheese = 7 grams
1/2 cup beans = 7 grams
1 oz. nuts = 6 grams
Protein shakes are a great way to get your protein fix. (Check the ingredient list and be aware of the added sugar grams.)
Shoot for 15 – 20 grams of protein at each meal and 6 – 10 grams for your snacks.
Last thing, especially for women, as we age we begin to lose muscle mass. (The very last thing that we need to happen.) You must consume protein and exercise in order to hold onto the muscle that you have. Eating one meal a day, living on carrots, or working on a computer all day will not get us the results that we want or need.
So get out there. Lift some weights, dig in the dirt, and for goodness sake, eat plenty of protein!! Whether it be red meat, white meat, fish, cheese, eggs , or vegan combinations, you’ll be glad you did.