What is protein, and how do you know if you’re getting enough of it?
The 25 different amino acids – different forms of protein – are the building blocks of the body. As well as being essential for growth and the repair of body tissue, they are used to make hormones, enzymes, antibodies and neurotransmitters, and help transport substances around the body. Both the quality of the protein you eat, determined by the balance of these amino acids, and the quantities you eat are important.
When I work with a client I am often asked, “How much protein do I need to eat.”
The amount of protein needed will vary per person, depending on factors such as weight, exercise intensity, and whether or not you’re recovering from an injury.
But a good range to aim for is:
0.75 gram of protein per kilogram of bodyweight
(You may need more if you’re pregnant/breastfeeding/competing in high endurance sports).
It’s really boring, but I recommend to my clients that they track their macros for a week using an app like My Fitness Pal to gauge whether they are eating less (or more) protein than they really need.
Of course, everyone is unique and some people need more or less protein but depending on what health issues are being experienced it is normally pretty evident whether macro-balance is out of whack.
Veggie or carnivore?
Meat provides good quality protein, but it also comes with a lot of saturated fat (fat is good but not too much of the saturated type).
For this reason, and others, I recommend that meat-eaters consume meat no more than two-three times a week. And wild fish once-twice a week.
I have been a vegetarian for over 20 years and can testify that it is totally feasible to obtain enough protein from a vegan or vegetarian diet, but it does require a little more attention.
The best quality vegetarian protein sources include eggs, quinoa, tofu/tempeh, beans, and lentils.
You can download my veggie protein guide here.
Some symptoms that may indicate not enough protein in your diet are:
- Constantly hungry/snacking
- Feeling irritated or hangry when you miss a meal
- Find it difficult to lose weight
- Sugar cravings
- Swelling (edema)
- Mood swings
- Brittle or thinning hair, dry and flaky skin, and deep ridges on your fingernails
- Weakness & fatigue
- Slow healing injuries
- Weakened immunity
If two or more of the above apply to you, I recommend tracking your macros for a week and checking whether you’re eating enough protein.
Other blogs you might enjoy:
- Home-made nut milk
- Vegan mac-n-cheese
- Do I need to supplement?
- Easy delicious chia pudding recipe
- The benefits of medicinal mushrooms
LOVE & HEALTH, Miranda xx
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