Protein is talked about all the time in the health and fitness community. The hype is there for good reason. Protein is found in every cell of the body and is crucial for the body to function properly. It is one of the three “macronutrients.” This guide will teach you about what protein is made of and how it used by the body. I’ll also give you a list of foods that come with a protein punch. Let’s get started!
Protein is made up of chains of amino acids. Amino acids are known as the “building blocks of life.” There are three groups of amino acids: essential, nonessential, and conditional. Essential amino acids must come from the food we eat because our bodies can’t make them. For humans, those amino acids are phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine. Nonessential amino acids can be made by our bodies.They are only called nonessential due to the fact that we don’t have to worry about getting them from food. These five amino acids are alanine, aspartic acid, asparagine, glutamic acid, and serine. Last but not least are conditional amino acids. These six amino acids can be made by the body but when the body is under great stress it becomes hard to do. When your body is trying to heal itself be sure to add arginine, cysteine, glycine, glutamine, proline, and tyrosine to your diet.
Protein is used by the body to regulate metabolism and repair tissue. Protein gives cells their structure and aids in the replication of DNA. When talking about the number of molecules in the body, protein is second only to water. How much protein should you try to include in your diet? “The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound,” (Authority Nutrition)
Animal Sources of Protein
- Greek yogurt: 23g per 8oz; Also contains probiotics and calcium.
- Eggs: about 6g per 1 large egg
- Boneless, skinless chicken breast: 24g per 3oz
- Canned tuna: 22g per 3oz; Very affordable; Contains omega-3 and B vitamins
- Tilapia: 21g per 3oz
Plant Sources of Protein
- Quinoa: 8g per 1 cup; Also contains iron and fiber
- Tofu: 12g per 3oz
- Lentils: 13g per ¼ cup; Very affordable, Contains potassium and zinc
- Peanut butter: 8g per 2 tbsp.
- Green peas: 7g per 1 cup
I noticed a lot of back and forth about which type of protein (animal vs. plant) was better while I was doing my research. I didn’t see any strong or convincing data on either side. I suggest making sure you have variety in your daily diet. This will ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need. Protein included.
That’s it for this quick guide. If you learned something new please leave a like. Share this post with a fitness buddy. Comment with your favorite way to get protein in your diet.