Protein is a crucial nutrient in our daily nutrition plan. The consumption and digestion of protein has many different functions! The building blocks of protein are called amino acids, which means our body breaks protein down into molecules of amino acids; there are two types of amino acids, essential and non-essential. The term essential simply means our body cannot naturally produce these amino acids so we must consume complete proteins to fuel our body with the necessary amino acids. Our body can naturally produce the non-essential amino acids; therefore the focus lies on the consumption of essential amino acids. Our body needs protein and amino acids mostly for the production of enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and antibodies- without sufficient protein intake, our bodies will not function well at all! Protein even helps with growth and repair of cells and acts as a transporter for certain substances.
The average American should consume .8 grams per kilogram of body mass (that’s .36 grams per pound). For example, a 175lb male, which is 79.5 kilogram, needs to consume 64 grams of protein daily. However, your activity level will determine if you need to consume more than the average, untrained, generally healthy adult. This base consumption of protein is merely to prevent protein deficiency; active adults or athletes who train regularly and hard will need to consume around 1.4-2 grams per kilogram of body weight. Above and beyond preventing protein deficiency, protein plays a huge role in maintaining good immune function, metabolism, feeling full, and weight management. You CAN eat too much protein; extra protein can be converted into sugar or fat, which would be doing the opposite of what you want to do so be mindful to follow the guide for proper protein consumption! Despite the myth that protein consumption can harm the kidneys, excessive protein consumption (2.8 grams/kg of body weight) will NOT harm the kidneys and plant proteins are especially safe to consume.
On to the meat of the article; what protein loaded foods should I consume to meet my daily needs? Remember, our body cannot produce the essential amino acids, therefore the consumption of foods such as soy protein, eggs, Parmesan, sesame, peanuts, tofu, whitefish, pork, mustard seeds, smelts, chia seeds, chicken and beef should be ingested on a daily basis. In a separate article, I will highlight the importance and role of each of the essential amino acids.
Essential Amino Acids Non-Essential Amino Acids
Leucine Aspartic Acid
Lysine Glutamic Acid